Is it possible to create a viral campaign and measure its impact? We’re about to find out with an experiment in action called Shake the Curse.
Background: When the Columbus Blue Jackets came to town, the excitement levels were off the charts. There was buzz everywhere, the team had years worth of sellouts, and ESPN voted Nationwide Arena the best experience in all of major sports. Now, in 2008, the team is at the bottom of the barrel in attendance, and the in-arena experience is very quiet and almost somber. So what happened and how do you fix it?
For one, the team has been terrible since the beginning, having the worst record in the NHL over the past 7 years since its inaugural season in 2000. Two, the quirky, self-deprecating, funny marketing that was produced in the beginning (by my former agency) has turned into a fairly well produced but completely non-engaging effort called “Carry the Flag.” It absolutely does not connect with the fans on an emotional level.
Cult Marketing decided to take matters into its own hands. We initiated a viral campaign called Shake the Curse. The idea is to give fans something to latch on to, something to believe in.
Here’s how it works: We presented the notion that the CBJ is cursed and therefore cannot make the playoffs. We blame various insidious things such as the fact the arena was built on a state penitentiary site. So, how do you break the curse?
We hired a spiritual releasement specialist to exorcise the evil spirits from the arena. We engaged in several cleansing rituals, created a web site (ShakeTheCurse.com) and created a method for shaking the curse which includes blue wigs and shakers. Instructions, viral videos, results and a community site are all online. So far, the team is 4-2-1 since the campaign started on November 5.
Can the effort go mainstream? Check back and see.