15 Nov

Fiona, the Roly Poly Adorable Hippo Marketing Machine

Go ahead and Google the word “Fiona,” and the first result you get won’t be the princess from Shrek. Or Fiona Apple, the Grammy-award winning singer. The first page of results is nearly entirely about a baby hippo.

Fiona, the bouncing, blubbery hippopotamus born prematurely at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2017, had all the odds stacked against her. Too weak to stand, unable to nurse and cared for 24/7 by a team of humans, she wasn’t supposed to make it. But with each hard-fought ounce gained and little milestone met –  from taking her first shower to getting to meet her parents – Fiona gained millions of obsessive fans around the world.

To wit, in 2016, the Cincinnati Zoo had about six million views of its videos. In the first half of 2017, they had over 125 million.

Along with becoming a social media darling, Fiona is the dimpled face that’s launched a marketing extravaganza. Last year (pre-Fiona), I went in search of a carved wooden hippo to have as a reminder of a favorite vacation I took with my husband. I could only find one, and it was $300. A search I did the other day turned up 304 on Etsy alone.

If you haven’t already, read the fabulous blog my colleague Christa Skiles wrote on Fiona’s meteoric rise to social media fame. And then come back and do a little on-line shopping to get your Fiona fix. All of the products listed here include a portion of their sales to benefit #TeamFiona.

  1. Fiona beer – Cincinnati craft brewer Listermann Brewing Co. launched Team Fiona IPA, with proceeds benefiting the zoo. Pick it up at Kroger or Jungle Jim’s, among others.
  2. Fiona stickers – Adorable, hand-drawn stickers of Fiona, offered by Audrey Torrence, a student at the University of Cincinnati. Half of proceeds go to #TeamFiona.
  3. FC Fiona t-shirts – Here’s a fun offering: t-shirts and stickers that are an homage to both Fiona AND Cincinnati’s beloved FC Cincinnati. Talk about rooting for a couple of Cincinnati upstarts.
  4. Fiona headbands – Keep your hair out of your eyes and celebrate Fiona with a Chica Band featuring her little face.
  5. A children’s book – “The Hippopotamus That Didn’t Give Up,” written and illustrated by second and third graders from Michigan. (And if this book leaves you hungry for more, don’t worry; zoo director Thane Maynard is penning a book on Fiona’s struggles and achievements for release in 2019.)

There’s more, lots more, including other t-shirts, ice cream and even fitness classes. So much roly poly goodness to be found.  Sigh. Wouldn’t our marketing jobs be SO MUCH EASIER if an adorable baby hippo came along to help?