National Marine Aquarium

Creating a Sea Change

50.3667° N, 4.1310° W

Key takeaways

The Challenge

Transforming a wet weather tourist attraction into a conservation experience hub by brand repositioning and growing revenue streams.

The Work

Strategy development, marketing positioning, paid media activation, including Google Grant management and brand consultancy.

The Results

An increase in visitor numbers by 25%. Millions in direct advertising revenue and a BBC2 television documentary series airing in 2023.

The Brief

The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City, is widely known as a leader in Ocean experiences. It’s a pioneer in education, and named one of the best wildlife attractions in the UK. Here at Navigate, we’re proud to have been working with them since 2019, supporting their digital journey, and collaborating on new and exciting possibilities with amazing results.  

Our approach

Google Grant

One of the best tools to get your organisation to the forefront of online searches is Google Advertising. Whilst people can get put off by what seems like an expensive and difficult campaign to set up, Google Grant can help with that. It kind of does what it says, Google grants a sum to help charities communicate their mission. The process can be challenging but it’s one we’re familiar with and something we could offer the NMA. Using Google Grants, we focused the advertising towards families and the education that the aquarium can provide about the Ocean.  

A Digital Revolution

After some great results from the Google Grant activity, we turned our attention to their paid digital advertising. With internal content creation nailed and a ready-made organic social media audience, NMA wanted to step up their ad game. We started managing this in the Autumn of 2019, and we immediately saw a great return on the ad spend. Scoring their best ever February Half Term footfall and revenue, went from strength to strength.   

Covid Complication

If you haven’t heard what happened by now, this thing called the pandemic turned everything upside down. Everything! But since working with the NMA their marketing approach had turned into a digital-first one, meaning instead of traditional marketing that could have cost them a tidy sum, we could pause everything until the time was right. Without wasting a penny. 

A bounce-back success

With a lockdown-induced digital view, connecting over Facebook lives, ‘relax’ videos, and weekly toddler craft, it’s no surprise that the audience growth reached over 100,000 people. When it was time to let the world back in, this was a prime position to be in. Using bespoke video content, the reopening launched with a lock-down saved budget and saw some great results.

Since then our relationship with the NMA and their umbrella charity the Ocean Conservation Trust has gone from strength to strength. They know if they need help with brand strategy, experience marketing, or new product launches, we’re there for them.

The Results

£1.8 million

Direct revenue through our advertising activity.


Increased website traffic since our work began.


Return on investment result from a typical campaign.

"Working with Navigate Agency on our digital marketing has been an incredible experience. Their expertise and dedication have helped us reach a wider audience and showcase the wonders of the ocean. Their innovative strategies and attention to detail have truly elevated our brand and allowed us to connect with our community in new and meaningful ways. We look forward to continuing this partnership and inspiring people to care for and protect our marine environment." 

Olly Reed, Head of Marketing, National Marine Aquarium

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