Every summer since 1988, the Discovery Channel has broadcast a weeklong series of TV programming dedicated to sharks. Known of course as Shark Week, it is the longest running cable TV programming event in history (26 years and counting!) and garnered 30M viewers in 2012.
Sharks are a national obsession. JAWS was the highest grossing movie of all time until Star Wars. Despite having terrible acting and effects, Sharknado somehow was watched by over 2M people on its third (!!) airing on SyFy. Shark Week is such a great trigger that brands even develop custom content for it:
— Tide (@tide) August 5, 2013
What’s the World’s Deadliest Animal?
With all this attention, you’d think sharks posed some kind of existential threat to humanity. But in fact sharks only kill about 10 people a year. Dogs, our beloved pets and companions, are 2,500x more deadly than sharks.
But what animal should we really be most afraid of if we value our lives?
Other humans are a heavy hitter, clocking in at 475k deaths. But the most deadly animal of all, for people at least, is the mosquito, responsible for three-quarters of a million human deaths each year, via like malaria, dengue and other blood-borne pathogens.
Sharks capture our attention because they are big, have scary looking teeth, and attack violently and suddenly. Mosquitos, on the other hand, are small, are often innocuous, and their blood-borne pathogens take a little time to do their damage. It’s no surprised they are over looked.
What mosquitos really need is marketing campaign.
Mosquito Week: Powered By Content
Bill Gates, the Microsoft-cofounder-turned-philanthropist, has taken on the challenge. He’s already committed billions of dollars via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight malaria and he’s now making mosquitos Public Enemy #1.
Every day on his blog, The Gates Notes, he’ll be posting about the deadly insect as part of his newly-created Mosquito Week. Looking at his campaign so far, we’d say he’s executing perfectly.
Visual Content: He’s got a fantastic and already incredibly well-shared (4k retweets in 2 hours) infographic as well as other images perfect for social sharing.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) April 29, 2014
Long-Form Content: On his blog, he’s posted on what it feels like to have malaria and what it will take to wipe the disease out. The articles are fairly short, read like a conversation with Gates rather than an academic paper, and include powerful images and videos.
Guest Content: To reach a broader audience, Gates isn’t just writing on his own site, he’s also written up his thoughts on malaria and Mosquito Week in Mashable, which has already received over 7,500 shares.
Video Content: The video’s he’s released on his YouTube channel are slick: less than 2 mins long, with dynamic graphics and typography human stories, and most importantly, scary close up footage of mosquitos sucking human blood. Remember, these things are the deadliest animals in the world!
An Enemy: While not at all being negative, Gates has done a terrific job of hanging his whole campaign against the much larger and well known Shark Week. Similar to how Dove targeted the practice of Photoshopping models or how Audi targeted Mercedes, Gates turns the “danger” of sharks to his advantage.
A Content Driven Marketing Campaign
Gates didn’t build Microsoft to become one of the most successful and powerful companies in the world without a strong appreciation of distribution channels and how messages spread. Mosquito Week is a testament to the power of great content plus a deep appreciation of audience is the core of great marketing. So far he doesn’t seem to have put any paid promotion around his content, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that’s already happening behind the scenes or part of the plan.
Ultimately though, Gates has an important message to deliver: that human life is important and that we should all participate in fighting the things that destroy that life.
The post How Bill Gates is Using Content to Take a Bite Out of Shark Week appeared first on The Percolate Blog.
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