DOOH Screens Transform for World Orca Day


Everybody and everything seems to be getting its own day on the calendar, and some matter more than others. Case in point: July 14, 2017 was the inaugural World Orca Day, and to help commemorate it, the international wildlife charity known as the Born Free Foundation borrowed the large-format full motion out-of-home (OOH) screens at various locations around the United Kingdom. The brainchild of ad agency WCRS and a winner of Ocean Outdoor’s annual digital creative competition, the #TankFree campaign used CGI technology and visual effects from The Mill London to show animated, life-sized orcas stuck in captivity. Throughout the day, pedestrians and other supporters were asked to essentially “Free Willy” by texting a donation to Born Free.

Each £5 donation received caused a captive orca to jump out of the DOOH screen and swim through other nearby sites to freedom. The escape triggered the arrival of another captive orca that swam into the virtual tank thereby tugging at the heartstrings of onlookers and inspiring more donations. Perhaps the most thoughtful part of this campaign is that the DOOH screens were approximately the same size as your average captive Orca tank—quite a downgrade from the open water and arguably inhumane. According to Born Free co-founder and actress Virginia McKenna, there are only 62 orcas in the world, and they’re all forced to live unnatural lives at marine facilities and aquariums while performing for treats instead of hunting for their meals.

“Equating the screen size with the size of a tank is a powerful message,” said Ocean Outdoor Head of Marketing Helen Haines. “This campaign is a beautiful use of creative out-of-home spaces, and it’s nice that the connection, interaction and positive action coincides on one day. This is a worthy winner of Ocean’s digital creative competition which looks to celebrate big, bold new ideas.”

“Sometimes the most powerful way to get a problem across to people is simply to show it to them in a way that’s hard to ignore,” said WCRS Creative Director Steve Hawthorne. “Creating life sized orcas, in digital screens the same size as the tanks that many orcas are kept in, allowed us to do just that.”

#TankFree featured for the day across five “hero” city center locations including Westfield Stratford, London, the Birmingham Media Eyes, Liverpool Media Wall, The Screen @Arndale in Manchester and St Enoch, Glasgow, from where the captive Orcas will be freed. A further six Ocean screens carried supporting graphics to raise awareness and donations on the same day.

At Digital Signage Connection, we often pose the question “Does size matter?” in relation to digital signage screens and displays. In this case, size was an integral aspect of the content messaging and that’s debatably when it matters most.

For more info about this World Orca Day campaign, check out the full list of project credits below:

Client: The Born Free Foundation
Agency: WCRS
Executive Creative Director: Billy Faithfull, Ross Neil
Creative Directors: Katy Hopkins, Steve Hawthorne
Agency Producer: Hannah Needham
Director of Technology: Dino Burbidge
Creative Technologists: Liam Chapman
Digital Producers: Mike Downey, Simon Fraser
Production Company: The Mill
Creative Director: Jorge Montiel
Head of Animation: Stefan Susemihl
Executive Producer: Reece Ewing
Producer: Jomana Ayoub
Co-ordinator: Rhea Sil, Nicole Rivron
CG Supervisor: Dhiran Karkera
2D Lead: Rakesh Venugopalan
3D Artists: Appu V, Sinu Raghavan, Chaitali Shah, Venugopal A
2D Artists: Girish Haryani, Arijit Ghosh, Amit Kambli
Digital Matte Painter: Bijo Joy
Media Owner: Ocean Outdoor
Media Planning: Ocean Labs

About Author

Jason Kushner is a videographer, editor, writer and filmmaker living in the Greater Atlanta Area. With an educational background combining film and journalism, Kushner has shot video and written for a myriad of publications and multimedia projects including Creative Loafing Tampa,, Starline Films and Digital Signage Connection. His 2009 documentary American Colonies: Collapse of the Bee became an Official Selection at 12 international film festivals, won Best Documentary at the 2009 Central Florida Film Festival and a John Muir Gold Award at the 2009 Yosemite Film Festival.  In 2015, he became Digital Media Editor for Digital Signage Expo, LightShow West and LED Specifier Summit and has since become Digital Content Manager for those shows’ parent company, Exponation.

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