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Zombie Marketing Attack! $86 Turned into $3.3 Million Viral Campaign

Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse

Rear Admiral Ali Khan admits one mistake in his innovative Zombie Preparedness Kit that brought more than 3.7 million visitors to the Centers for Disease Control Website in the past two months: He mentioned Resident Evil as a zombie movie – something the Internet’s zombie nerds pointed out wasn’t entirely true, although it’s incredibly easy assumption to make.

(The bad guys in the movie are infected humans; not returned from the dead zombies – details, details).

“I was discounted as a serious zombieologist,” joked Khan, Assistant Surgeon General and head of CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, yesterday during an interview with FedScoop Radio.

The campaign that was created for a mere $86 (the only money used was to license some clip art – everything else was already in CDC’s plans) was a rousing success, creating a viral government social media campaign (at one point it got a tweet per second for 48 straight hours) that the results would have cost an estimated $3.3 million if done as a traditional advertising buy, Kahn says.

The project came about following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this year when the CDC was reaching out to people who they were getting prepared for such disasters, and some of the responses on Twitter came back talking about preparing for a zombie apocalypse.

The CDC’s communications team, led by Dave Daigle, took note and when it came time for the agency’s annual blog post on hurricane preparedness the team approached Khan about tying the message in with zombies.

“The zombie [post] is a good way to remind people that public health every day protects you from threats,” Khan said. “The blog was a nice way to bridge to the role of public health in our communities and every day we are helping people in America and worldwide.”

Khan said the agency would like to do more innovative projects like this in the future, so we can only guess what’s next.

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