January Third

Spy Museum

Creative Agency of Record

Integrated Marketing Campaign

A building brimming with secrets? Let’s tell everyone.

The International Spy Museum is home to James Bonds’ Aston Martin, the Trotsky Ice Axe, hundreds of gadgets (including an actual lipstick pistol) and interactive exhibits designed to test your espionage skills. A DC staple for more than 20 years, the Spy Museum recently upsized, now occupying a space fit to accommodate its 600,000 annual visitors.

Our goal: increase bookings. We set out to create a series of top-of-mind awareness campaigns for DC tourists, locals, and target demographics in neighboring counties. To maximize attendance, we needed to promote the museum not as yet another DC museum, but an experience like no other.


The Idea

What sets the museum apart (besides their infamous “rectal tool kit”) is interactivity. Beyond the collection of artifacts, there’s 17 exhibits that challenge visitors of all ages to break ciphers, traverse air ducts, and even surveil other visitors. It’s this interactivity that separates Spy from older, stodgier points of interest like the Hirshorn or Portrait Gallery. When you visit those places, you don’t become Augeste Rodin or Thomas Jefferson. You look, speed-read a plaque, then leave. At the Spy Museum, you’re given an alias. You’re tasked with collecting intel. You’re not simply spectating. The campaign idea became clear:

You don’t visit the Spy Museum. You live it.

Our campaign would aim to reveal how the Spy Museum fundamentally changes the way you see the world. In 2022, we took archetypal visitors — 12-year-old field trippers, out-of-town parents, curious second-daters — and dropped them into high-stakes scenes from East Berlin in 1954 or a CIA interrogation room. They’re not observing a Bond exhibit; they *are* Bond… James Bond. In 2023, we expanded the campaign into live action film. It opens Bourne-level thrilling — mimicking a high-stakes trailer — and concludes with a familiar reveal: dad visited the Spy Museum and now he acts like a spy, even if he’s just grabbing takeout.



You shared a train with 14 spies this morning.

We took over subways, wrapped buses, and peppered the web with our message: you’re a few stops away from experiencing espionage — seeing James Bonds’ Aston Martin, deciphering unbreakable ciphers, inspecting the lipstick pistol.

We also reminded commuters as they board their buses and trains that, statistically speaking, there’s a spy waiting for them. Fourteen *actual* spies ride the bus every day; hundreds walk by as private citizens switch trains.

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With the insight that visitors were purchasing tickets 1-3 days prior to visiting, we focused the entirety of our spend on DC — sprinkling OOH ads where tourists are sure to discover them and across dozens of digital channels. We even leveraged location and weather pattern data to select from a suite of copy variations to serve just the right ad at just the right time in just the right place.



TL;DR: It’s working.

As of 2023 Spy's ROAS is the highest it's ever been, netting a year-over-year ticket sale increase of 31%.

During 2022's campaign, our search click through rate of 26% surpassed the benchmark. And between search and display the campaign raked in 5 million impressions, 38,000 clicks, and 10,000 conversions. That’s an estimated monthly revenue of over $700,000. In just one month, we saw a 21X return on ad spend — significantly higher than our goal of 8X. Our partnership with the International Spy Museum is ongoing, and we’re optimizing the campaign every month to ensure ticket sales continue to grow. The 2023 numbers are still rolling in. Stay tu[redacted].

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