Packin’ Heat At a Snowball Fight

By now most of you have probably heard about the incident over the weekend involving an off-duty police officer who brandished a gun when his car was hit by snowballs during a massive snowball fight in DC. If not you can read about it here or check out the video below.

Fortunately things turned out ok and an investigation is ongoing but it does highlight how quickly reports of an incident can become viral videos on the web. So what can marketers learn from this?

1. Shock and Awe. During my journalism classes the instructors alluded to the addage that “if it bleeds, it leads.” While this may be a little grusome, there is some truth to it. Think about an accident you’ve passed on the highway, did you slow down to try and have a look?

2. Opposites attract. The exaggerated case of a gun showing up at a snowball fight is something that grabs attention because it almost seems like fiction. Why would anyone feel the need to pull a gun when they are getting pelted by snow? That could have made the ending of Frosty the Snowman completely different and disturbing.

3. Be careful what you wish for. While the snowball fight example is something from real life that serves as an example of how fast something can spread across the web, marketing campaigns that attempt to shock people don’t always work out. Remember the guerilla campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie a couple of years ago where

State police remove ad for movie from bridge in Boston

were placed on buildings, bridges and other locations. The end result was publicity for the movie but also arrests for people involved.

So in the end, large gatherings of people can be used as impromptu marketing showcases, provided that a company has an idea good enough to sneak in without appearing to be overt product placement.

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