Imagine this – you’re an eight year old sleeping over at the Field Museum. You spent the night wandering the exhibits, learning about Sue the dinosaur, and playing flashlight tag in the dark. In the morning, you’re sleep deprived but high on sugar from Corner Bakery muffins, and you have just decided that you want to be a paleontologist when you grow up. While exiting the museum, a table stands in your way… a table full of T. Rexes!
How could you resist?! The Adopt a T. Rex program is a nifty way to entice families to take one step closer to membership at the Field. Since its introduction in 2011, the program has sold many more stuffed dinosaurs (yes, folks – they’re not actually real dinos) than anticipated. With your T. Rex, you also receive a carrier crate for your plush friend, a fact sheet, a certificate of adoption, a species tag, a STICKER, and an invite to Member’s Night. You can even ship your T. Rex anywhere in the continental US! The scenario is simple – dangle toys in front of kids, make a few bucks (39$ to be exact), include an invitation to Member’s Night, and entice families to want to become members and contributors to the museum in the future.
So simple and so effective – why didn’t we think we think of it sooner?! The Field has been using the image of Sue the T. Rex as a marketing tool since her arrival in 1999. She can be found on signage, is plastered on t-shirts, and even has her own Twitter account! My question is – how can this idea translate to other types of museums? What if you don’t have a “mascot” of sorts, like Sue, to represent your institution? Will we be adopting a historian?!