Monday, March 10, 2008

Sony wins big with "Thriller" guerrilla marketing stunt

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson's mega-hit album "Thriller," Sony/BMG Music has staged some really cool re-creations of the iconic dance number from the title track.

A story in the March 10 issue of The New York Times reports on groups in London, Copenhagen and Sydney seeming to spontaneously break into the zombie dance in crowded settings, only to melt away and back into the crowd when the dance is over, as if nothing ever happened.

These videos have now been viewed by well over a million people, all over the world.

It is what we "old timers" used to call a publicity stunt. Only now, we are calling it guerrilla marketing, and with the advent of YouTube and social media, these events get transmitted all over the world, making millions of impressions.

I give Sony/BMG a lot of credit. What is more recognizable a dance than Michael Jackson and his "Thriller" entourage of "zombies"? And to see otherwise normal-appearing folks (they are, in fact, trained professional dancers) in everyday settings all of a sudden breaking into a choreographed routine, well, it is genius.

I love the fact that the Times saw fit to report on it. My only nit-pick of a complaint is that they ran it under a banner that read "Advertising." In fact, this is what PR agencies do for their clients every day. Advertising folk only WISH they had the power to make this much of an impression for such a relatively small amount of money.

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