Friday, April 16, 2010

An immersive creative experience

With so much going on in the world of social issues marketing, sometimes I forget to celebrate the fact that at Acart we don't just change the world — sometimes we create a whole new one.

This June, Ottawa will see the opening of Calyspo — Canada's largest theme waterpark.

Considering our long experience working with the Ottawa Senators and developing the regional Hockey Country brand, we were keen on helping a new local entertainment giant join our community. We pitched the business last year, won them over, and set to developing a brand that would differentiate the park from others.

From the same people who run Valcartier Vacation Village in Quebec, the new park is destined to become a Disney of the North.

And there was the challenge. After considering a number of ideas, we realized that this job required a real depth of imagination. We had to create a whole cast of characters, and back story, from scratch.

Starting with the name, Calypso ("goddess of the waves") as the lead character, we developed a family friendly cast that represent the different types of rides and experiences people can expect from the park.

(Early Calypso concept sketch)


"Condemned for centuries to the island of Gozo by Zeus, Calypso is finally free to find her own place in the world. The Queen of the Waves does not have to search for long before she finds her true home, Calypso Palace, in a park called none other than Calypso! What a wondrous find! Calypso Palace is her dream home—a giant wave pool producing all sorts of waves, all under her control."

That's the official bio of Calypso, and the other characters are similarly developed.

There's Capitaine LaPlank, pirate and embodiment of the kids' Aquaplay rides:

Sara Max, California daredevil, and brand expression of the more adrenaline-pumping rides like the Fast Track:

Dr. Dunk, evil scientist and lord of the Turbo Lab:

And finally, Wildman Jack, Aussie adventurer and face of the nature-themed rides like the Jungle Run:

The name of the last character may seem familiar to some of you. But hey — if Dave Thomas could name his burger mascot after his daughter, I figured a little tribute to my nature-loving son was not out of line!

The characters were fleshed out by Acartians Mel (copy) and Kerry (Art Director/Illustrator - who also did the Sens' new logo) and then worked into design by Leslie. We are currently working to costume living, breathing versions for Calypso's grand opening on June 7th.

What a ride... and we haven't even gotten wet yet!


  1. Also significant contributors to the project -- the account management, strategic and quality assurance teams. Along with Vernon who played a significant role in the creative development of our characters.

    Thanks for the blog Tom!

  2. I saw the Sara Max one @ Calypso.....
    i tought the girl was crazy, didn't even know it had anything to do with advertising.. And honestly, didn't look that great either. lol