ICG flies into action for viral Blackpool Zoo story

By ICG

12 May 2023

Blackpool Zoo Eagle - credit Dave Nelson.jpg.jpg

Preston-based ICG flew into action for long-standing client Blackpool Zoo after the attraction’s job vacancy for a human seagull deterrent broke the internet.

Within 48 hours news of the extraordinary job role, which involves the successful applicants wearing an inflatable eagle costume, had reached as far as Kenya, Borneo, Australia, Canada, Germany and America…. to name but a few.

ICG’s PR team spent two weeks supporting the zoo’s marketing department to answer media enquiries from across the globe, which secured over £8m worth of coverage.

It was the topic of discussion on the UK small screen with mentions on This Morning, Loose Women, Have I Got News For You, Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News, GB News, Granada Reports, BBC North West Tonight and many more.

The radio waves were also buzzing. BBC Radio One had several DJs apply for the positions, Heart FM sent their roving reporter and Gaydio and Virgin Radio joined every single BBC local radio station in discussions about the once in a lifetime opportunity.

Over in print, The Sun sent their features writer up to Blackpool to try out being a ‘gull getter’ while The Mirror dispatched their infamous Mirror Chicken to face off against the celebrity eagle (of course, the eagle reigned supreme). Other nationals, from the Daily Mail to The Telegraph and newspapers from regions across the country spread the word.

Famous faces that talked about the story included Paul Merton, Coleen Nolan, Jeremy Vine, Amanda Holden, Jenny Powell, Richard Ayoade, Ian Hislop, Roman Kemp, Ruth Langsford, Frankie Bridge, Jamie Theakston and many more.

The vacancy also captured the imagination of journalists looking for great stories across the globe!

The Wall Street Journal got in touch while other international media cuttings included Fox News, Huffington Post, CNN, The Washington Post, The Indian Express and the South China Morning Express. 

Overseas TV programmes included The Project in Australia and James Corden covered the story on his last ever Late Late Show in America.

There were over 250 applications for the role from as far afield as Australia, Uganda, Ukraine, the US and Kenya.

Visitor services assistant at the zoo, Jess Monks, modelled the inflatable eagle costume and has taken her new found fame in her stride.

Operations and visitor services manager, Ian Walker, also became an overnight sensation, with interview requests still coming in thick and fast two weeks later.

Behind the hype is a serious message, as the chosen applicants will need to be open to helping to educate visitors about the importance of not feeding or encouraging the nuisance seagulls.

Paula Holden, senior account manager at ICG said: “It has certainly been a fortnight like no other for our PR team, but everyone pulled together to support the zoo’s marketing department to make sure that we squeezed every column inch and broadcast minute out of this once in a lifetime viral sensation!

“This year marks 15 years since we started working with Blackpool Zoo, which is testament to the relationship and deep understanding we have of the attraction, its fantastic team and amazing residents.

“Here’s to the next 15 years and more of really wild stories!”

Nicola Benstead, PR and marketing coordinator at Blackpool Zoo, added: “This story literally grew wings and flew as soon as it started getting picked up by the media, and with the help of the ICG PR team, we managed to get worldwide coverage in a matter of days.

“We spent a hectic two weeks working with reporters who wanted to come and try the job out and arranging interviews for various zoo staff members – often at all times of the day and night due to time differences in lots of countries.

“The team at ICG supported us throughout the process and together we ensured that, while this was a fun story, our serious messaging around educating visitors was loud and clear.

“Now the dust is settling we’re working with ICG on the launch of our new £1.5m big cat facility – we can’t wait to unveil it at a special press event later this month!” 

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