Point Defiance walrus, polar bears to be featured globally in Masters IBM commercials

Staff writerApril 10, 2014 

Point Defiance biologist Cindy Roberts feeds E.T. the walrus in February 2009.

PETER HALEY — Staff photographer file, 2009

Tiger won’t be a part of the Masters this weekend, but other, larger mammals will be.

You’ll be watching the golf tournament on TV when the IBM commercial comes on, and you might just think the walrus looks familiar.

Yes, that’s E.T. from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

Or the commercial with the polar bears, Blizzard and Boris.

Yes again, Point Defiance.

It turns out that IBM, which recently worked with the zoo on a data analytics project, is featuring several of its partnered programs during the annual golf event.

There's also a story in Forbes Magazine and other publications, and the commercials will also be available as online flash ads.

“It’s kind of a big deal for us,” said zoo spokeswoman Kris Sherman on Thursday.

“Data analytics,” she said, “has proven useful to the zoo.”

“It’s really quite an honor,” said Donna Powell, business and administrative services manager for the zoo.

“For us, it’s really about being able to communicate with our customers in a much deeper way, and in a way that resonates with them,” she said.

The Forbes article explains that the zoo, with IBM’s help, “has become an analytics-driven enterprise, analyzing everything from the success of its online promotions to the effect of the weather on gate receipts and concession sales.”

The data have helped the zoo “acquire more members, increase visitors and reallocate funds from administration and operations to support its overall mission of animal conservation,” the article says.

Where do people buy their admissions - from mobile devices, from home, or there at the zoo? What time did they arrive? What patterns have developed that were not particularly obvious before? 

These are the kinds of questions that data analytics can answer.

“We know more about the zoo visitors,” Sherman said. “All of that helps the zoo better predict how best to deploy resources.”

The E.T. commercial is embargoed until it airs on Sunday, when you can catch it on CBS.

For the polar bear spot, which airs sometime Thursday on ESPN, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhESCPW4bLc.


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