Grand Rapids Public Museum Hawking Its Wares (Or Is It?) in New Membership Campaign from Brand Agency Genesis

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Brand agency Genesis Inc. brings to life the idea of “ownership” through creative campaign.

Georgia Everse, partner at Genesis Inc.

“What we set out to do was encourage a sense of ownership in our community,” said Georgia Everse, managing partner at Genesis Inc. and head of the agency’s Grand Rapids office.

A finback whale skeleton, an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus, and George Washington’s hair all appear to be for sale, through the "Be a proud owner" campaign launched by The Grand Rapids Public Museum – the institution’s first-ever membership campaign.

The concept is based on the premise that by purchasing a museum membership, you can become the owner of the Grand Rapids Public Museum and all the organization has to offer - including over 250,000 scientific, cultural and historical artifacts.

The campaign, created and executed by their Denver-based brand partner Genesis Inc., aims to drive up museum membership by increasing awareness about the value it provides through the artifacts - which have mostly been donated by community members - and its programming of rich, immersive exhibitions and experiences of the wider world. The campaign also features a brand new tagline for the Museum, "Be curious".

“What we set out to do was encourage a sense of ownership in our community,” said Georgia Everse, managing partner at Genesis Inc. and head of the agency’s Grand Rapids office. “The Museum collections are owned by the city of Grand Rapids and there is some misconception that it is primarily publicly funded. While it’s true that the museum receives some public money, most of the funding comes from donations and memberships, so it really belongs to the people of West Michigan and needs the support of the entire community to thrive.”

The campaign, launched at the beginning of May, includes print, outdoor and digital advertising, radio ads (including spots on Pandora), direct mail, and guerrilla tactics – lantern posts, mock Craigslist ads and eBay listings – as well as a social component.

“In the past, the Museum has used a variety of fundraising means, but together with Genesis we realized the time was right for a much bigger membership push” said Kate Moore, recently-appointed GRPM Marketing Director. “With this campaign, we hope to highlight that our museum is YOUR museum, it represents the spirit of our community and is an inspiring place that we can all be a part of.”

While it’s still too early to measure results, it has become apparent that the campaign message has been pretty convincing. At least one interested buyer showed up at the Museum’s front desk the first week the campaign ads ran in the local media – expressing interest in the purchase of the Egyptian sarcophagus.

About Genesis, Inc.

Since 1967, Genesis has successfully positioned ideas, messages, products, services, destinations and brands for hundreds of clients of all sizes, across a wide variety of industries and global markets. Genesis specializes in ideas and implementation with capabilities ranging from new concept development to successful market realization.

About the Grand Rapids Public Museum

The Grand Rapids Public Museum, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is located in downtown Grand Rapids, MI at 272 Pearl Street, NW. The mission of the museum is to be a living monument of artifacts, ideas and stories told through exhibitions, events and educational programming designed to inspire, motivate and celebrate our human bond. We enrich the life of our community through experiences of the wider world in a uniquely Grand Rapids context. For additional information including hours of operation, admission fees and exhibit/event listings, please visit

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Ana Fiorenzo
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