Posted by Abe Sauer on May 19, 2011 06:00 PM
In a genius publicity move, the Center for Disease Control tweeted about its zombie readiness protocol.
The link goes to a CDC page "Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse," which notes the history of zombies, what your emergency preparedness kit should contain, and the comforting notion that "If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation."
It was a tongue-in-cheek bit of marketing that unexpectedly bit the CDC in a huge (unexpected) way.
The CDC's gag is reminiscent of how an "Easter egg" last Halloween converted the entire Sears website into "zombie mode."
Funny enough, when the CDC was the center of attention during the swine flu scare of 2009, numerous knuckleheads used the opportunity to point out the ensuing zombie invasion. One in particular was uploaded under an account called CDCNewsLive.
Another group that's leveraging the walking undead for a little PR bump is the Polish architecture firm KWK Promes. Promoting May as Zombie Awareness Month, the firm announced the construction of the world’s first zombie-proof house outside Warsaw. According to the International Business Times, the house "features Rubik’s cube-type movable parts" and folds in on itself completely at the end of the day to seal off outside dangers.
Zombies have always been popular, but now they are becoming sympathetic. Sir Ian McKellen was just announced to star opposite Dame Judi Dench in The Curse of The Buxum Strumpet, a (finally!) "zombie romance" film.
The CDC's humorous zombie announcement — to remind folks that they should, in fact, have emergency kits prepared and at hand as hurricane season hits the US — has, of course, been an extraordinary PR move, generating media mentions, taking over Twitter and Facebook, and receiving a flood of attention.
But the irony of the whole stunt is that the joke generated so much traffic that it crashed the CDC's web servers, proving that, in the event of a genuine stampede to its website for information, the CDC was, well, not all that prepared.