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3 Ways To Tell When Zombies Have Jumped The Shark

The rise of the Zombie demographic
There's only one place where the undead are immortal: Marketing. In books, movies and folktales, zombies and vampires are made re-dead all the time. However, in business these creatures are far more long-lived and contagious than elsewhere in pop culture. When a monster infects one ad campaign the contagion spreads, lasting long after the audience finds it interesting.

This season zombies are all the rage. Last year it was vampires. Be warned that as with any fashion trend, wearing the outdated look will make you look just that. So is it time to lurch off the zombie bandwagon?

Not quite yet, if the experience of the Centers For Disease Control is anything to go by. It recently posted a blog item titled Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, which has become so popular that even Google's cached version is now dead.

The CDC approach is quite clever and, when the site is up again, will undoubtedly do a lot of good:

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That's right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.
Ironically, the CDC may be one of the indicators of the end of the zombie apocalypse. Here are three questions that will help you keep your marketing from getting lost in the swarm of zombies.
  1. Is the contagion leveling out? One sure way to determine this literally box office. When the vampire romance movie Twilight was released in 2008 it brought in $192 million in US ticket sales. The 2009 sequel topped that by nearly $100 million. The 2010 sequel also did about $300 million -- a nice number if you are the studio but a clear indicator that vampire mania had lost its bite.
  2. Are you the second (or later) in your sector to use it in ads? Last May Ford became the first car company to do a zombie ad. Toyota and Honda soon followed suit and probably others but it was already too late to tell the difference. Never forget the fate of Tag, P&G's attempt to clone the success of Unilever's Axe body spray. It took an identical advertising path all the way into the grave.
  3. Is it being used by the non-profits? The one thing nearly all non-profits hate more than anything else is controversy. If they are going to use something in an ad it has to be safer than milk. Thus when the Red Cross got the vampire bug, it was time to fold up the coffins and head home.
Following these rules will also likely make you a trailblazer. After all, marketers are immune to zombies because zombies feed on braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains.
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