All Hail Ms. Raccoon – Marketing Professor

We watched. We worried. We waited. And within hours, that furry daredevil became an international media sensation. #MPRRaccoon was trending nationally. The fur ball herself was somehow tweeting to thousands of followers, and the BBC even picked up the story.  Given her star status – OK, shooting star status – I think she can teach us a thing or two about marketing strategy.

First Location. If you’re hoping to go viral, you need to be in a place where your antics can be videoed and shared – a lot. Like maybe one of the tallest buildings in St. Paul.

Lesson for brands? Obviously, you need to put your message before lots of people – people with cameras, smart phones and social media accounts. Publicists for Ghostbusters knew that. Their giant Stay-Puft marshmallow man burst out of a busy subway sidewalk to catch a lot of attention.

MPRRaccoon - Fusionfarm Big Thoughts
Photo credit – Ben Johnson @Johnson88Ben

Stunts. You don’t see a raccoon climbing a building every day. However, it’s not as uncommon as you might think, especially in Canada. In 2016, a raccoon there climbed 10 floors down an apartment building, and in 2015, another raccoon climbed 698 feet up a Toronto tower ladder. So what makes #MPRRaccoon different? She was an urban raccoon with an element of surprise. No one noticed her until she’d climbed pretty high. She was out of place and in luck.

Lesson for brands? If you want to be memorable, you’ve gotta be audacious, original and bold. But also true to your core narrative. Remember Red Bull Stratos and the jump from the edge of space? It garnered 8 million live views on YouTube. Red Bull’s extreme stunts stay true to its core – fast, exciting, dangerous.

Heartstrings. Yes, our little racoon was a sweet, small adorable animal out of her native habitat and alone in the big, cruel, cold city. We loved her. We feared for her. And we cheered when she made it to the top. Lesson for brands? Touch that emotional core in us. Make us feel something, dammit.

Humor. We joked about her too. “Even wild animals know @cityofsaintpaul is a great place to reach for higher heights,” tweeted Mayor Melvin Carter. The memes and comments were hilarious. But what if it didn’t turn out OK? Public sentiment is a fickle beast. The brand lesson here? Be careful of misplaced humor. Remember how Mark Zuckerberg was criticized after a cartoon version of him was released touring the hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico? A PR effort that missed the mark.

Placement. Our little raccoon wasn’t looking for media placements when she climbed that building, but she found them anyway. Minnesotans, celebrities, even the New York Times and the BBC wrote, tweeted, and photographed her.  Lesson for brands: Just let it happen. Sometime NOT trying to force coverage is the best way to get coverage.

Enjoy the wilds again, Ms. Raccoon. Thanks for your 5 minutes of fame.