Contributed by Eugene Kim
You probably won’t believe it, but zombies have been around for quite some time. These creepy, soulless, brain-devouring corpses have been haunting our nightmares for almost 2,000 years and, the best part is, they are still kicking. But what led zombies to become the best known monsters in the world? Follow along, and I’ll show you!
Whether it was a decapitated corpse, a drained cadaver or a beast-mangled body, it all started with an event that triggered panic within an ancient (I’ll get back to this) population. And let me assure you, these weren’t your everyday occurrences. I mean these historical events weren’t like the everyday stab victim you hear about on TV. These were the incidents they make movies about. These were the Ted, Rudy smoking bath salts with a chainsaw incidents that left a town shaken and disturbed.
Now, with modern day technology, it wouldn’t be too difficult to discern what exactly happened with Ted and his victim Mary Ann Poppo, but back in the day (and I mean BACK IN THE DAY) local constituents would have no way to determine what happened. So what did they do? They tried to explain the incidents the best they could, and to keep faith in humanity, they said Ted was no longer human. He was a monster. A dirty, stinking monster.
Like any good citizen, it would be just wrong not to talk about what happened to poor Mary Ann Poppo, especially since, you know, people needed to know! So Sally would tell Sully about the chainsaw victim with bite marks on their face, and how some undead monster named Jack rose from the grave with a hankering for some filleted human flesh. Of course, the story would evolve, since it was essentially a long game of telephone, and it would ultimately reach this conclusion: ZOMBIES.
These stories wouldn’t just stop after it reached the last town inhabitant though. It would spread, as some people tended to give into their flight instincts and skip town. These wussies would then meet with other people and tell their tale.
Now, let’s say a new character steps into the picture. Let’s say Zodiac Jack had a mental break down after someone took the last Twinkie on the shelf (pre-being bought and revived) and went on a Jure Grando-esque killing spree. Now with past evidence, provided by said wussies, this event would soon be classified as a zombie event as well.
This is how the idea of zombies essentially started some thousand plus years ago, but it would take some serious commitment to keep these ideas going throughout time. These incidents occurred over and over again, some within months of each other and others years apart. But they happened, again and again and again. Soon they were added into literature (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for example) and even though the majority of people stopped believing in the possibility of the undead actually existing somewhere in the 1500’s (thank God for the Renaissance) they lived through novels and continued to evolve into what we know them as today.
How Does It Relate
Now many of you probably wouldn’t think this relates to advertising, but it does! Zombies are probably one of the oldest and strongest brands around today. It might seem like a stretch, but you know zombies, you have emotional ties to zombies and zombies churn out some pretty amazing sales (like the World War Z book). And how is this possible? Let me spell it out for you with some examples from our recent Harmons campaign.
The Ted Rudy incident from way back when, is a public event that doesn’t occur on an everyday basis. Our version of this one-time public event was when Harmons handed out free cupcakes in the Gallivan Center. It’s pretty much the same as the bone chilling murder, except without the murder… and it’s actually quite enjoyable. Then, people start talking and sharing the story. In addition to word-of-mouth story telling, technology is here to help the process speed along. And sooner or later, Harmons will come out with another public stunt, sparking more conversation. Those events, mixed in with other consistent efforts in TV, radio, online and PR, give you the making of a strong brand.
The key is to create a strong, story-provoking event and follow up with consistent activity. Your brand will also have to evolve with time to stay relevant (think Night of the Living Dead zombies from 1968, compared to World War Z zombies now). Lucky enough for you, PPBH is right here to offer a helping hand.