July 11, 2012 / by DannyS

Pitbull, the popular rapper, will be vacationing to Kodiak, Alaska. Sheets Energy Strips is more known than they were. Walmart gets more impressions…

…but It’s Kodiak that truly goes for the win here. The great folks up there are getting a show that they probably never expected to happen. But why?

It happened when Pitbull, along with a company he is a stakeholder in, Sheets Energy Strips, cross promoted with Walmart on Facebook. The contest went like this: The Walmart with the most Facebook likes would in turn, receive a show by Pitbull himself. However, David Thorpe and John Hedren decided they would hijack this deal and get the internet population to “Exile Pitbull” to Kodiak, Alaska – the location of the most remote Walmart – using the hashtag #ExilePitbull on Twitter. Pushing it into the Reddit community thrust this novel concept into the international media attention.

The contest closes in a few days, July 16th, and currently over 70,000 people like Kodiak’s Walmart. To put that into context, there’s only roughly 6,000 citizens in the community. People really want to see Pitbull commit to this deal and follow through.

The Meat and Potatoes of the #ExilePitbull

By all accounts, he plans to go forth with the deal. He even invited the originators of the #ExilePitbull along. However, there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

Quickly, I began running analytics on a few terms revolving the campaign itself as well as the #ExilePitbull to get an idea as to whether this was working or not, and who the winners were in this situation. Clearly, the ultimate winner is Kodiak. They deserve this too, because in essence their community was being mocked because they are so remote – however, they got a lot of coverage nationally. Also, Sheets and Pitbull definitely gained a lot out of this. Pitbull is one of many celebrity Sheets stakeholders and their company is relatively unknown. Then the Twitter explosion happened:

Practically overnight, the internet blew up on this. Specifically Twitter. Clearly, people have been aching to send Pitbull somewhere remote. What was a paltry 1,399 mentions on Thursday became 29,995 on Friday, the contest debuted June 18th. In the matter of a day, Sheets, Pitbull and Kodiak’s Walmart saw a 2044.03145% increase in mentions via Twitter. This doesn’t even include the Facebook growth, mentions or international media coverage which definitely happened.

My point is that regardless of David and John’s intentions to exile Pitbull, they helped turn this contest that was fledgling at best into an international impression fest for the self proclaimed “International Lover” and his company, Sheets.  The “International Lover” is his love to the Arctic.

I hear several clients ask about going viral, I chuckle about it a lot. I don’t truly believe there is a science to going viral. People either love it or hate, and by all accounts this campaign wasn’t all that interesting. Then some web users propelled it into international fame, not agency employees. Suddenly, exiling Pitbull was far more interesting than having Pitbull visit your local Walmart, and that went viral. In the end, Kodiak is now more known and the people there love to tell their story of why they love it there, in remote Kodiak.

This is why I declare Kodiak the ultimate winner of this campaign. Although, I do hope that Sheets and Pitbull use their current publicity to showcase Kodiak and give people a better understanding of the people, the natives and the community – it could be one brilliant content marketing campaign.

Danny Schotthoefer is the digital strategist/community manager at an advertising agency in Bozeman, Montana. He is also a TEDx event organizer and an avid Oregon Ducks and Portland Trailblazers fan. You can also find him running via Nike+ and cycling via Strava – he is highly social. 



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