The Smithsonian Institution is embarking on the first branding campaign in its 166-year history in an effort to raise awareness of its work, primarily among young adults, write The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The $1.4-million, social-media-focused effort, launched Thursday, targets people ages 18 to 34, whom a Smithsonian-commissioned survey showed have the least knowledge and the most negative view of the world’s largest museum and research complex.
The campaign, two years in the making, is the first to advertise the Smithsonian brand as a whole rather than individual institutions and exhibitions. It ads offer users online routes to explore colorful questions related to work being done by Smithsonian researchers, such as “How is hip-hop like the microchip?” and “What exactly does a bear do in the woods?”
Officials said the effort has less to do with boosting attendance—which has been rising in recent years—than with promoting nonmuseum work, such as the Smithsonian’s magazine and TV channel, and changing public attitudes about what is widely viewed as a staid institution to be visited once or twice in a lifetime.