Brilliant! – Banff goes nuts with Crasher Squirrel

For the past two years, Banff Lake Louise Tourism (BLLT) has been building a social media presence, including weekly videos, a blog, Facebook page and Twitter profile. So when a curious squirrel popped into a holiday snapshot at Lake Minnewanka in Banff, AB, the org was well poised to ride the viral media wave that ensued.

For the past two years, Banff Lake Louise Tourism (BLLT) has been building a social media presence, including weekly videos, a blog, Facebook page and Twitter profile. So when a curious squirrel popped into a holiday snapshot at Lake Minnewanka in Banff, AB, the org was well poised to ride the viral media wave that ensued.

After the photo was submitted to National Geographic’s website, people started Photoshopping the rodent into their own pics. Within hours, BLLT leveraged its website and social media properties, creating a YouTube video, an @Banff_Squirrel identity on Twitter, a Facebook page and an SEM campaign.

‘You think that you’re doing a lot of things that aren’t grabbing, but you’re getting ready for that one thing that does,’ says Lori Bayne, communications director, BLLT.

With Toronto and Vancouver-based Radar DDB, the social media push was combined with traditional media. Crasher Squirrel was added to existing regional billboards, squirrel-themed Banff stickers were sent to retail partners and BLLT commissioned a squirrel pendant with a local jeweller. Blogging was continuous on The Real Banff National Park blog, and arrangements were made to have the squirrel ‘crash’ other websites around the world. The story was featured on CNN, CBC and a variety of other international networks.

BLLT estimates the campaign, which has reached over 80 million people, is worth $3 million in print, TV and online media value. It was mentioned in 301 blogs in North America and generated over 5,000 Twitter mentions and 659 Facebook posts. Countries reached include Canada (36%), the U.S. (29%), the U.K. (8.4%), Australia (3.2%) and Germany (2.9%).

Bayne feels the campaign reached the goal of promoting Banff, and pegs the entire ‘crasher’ spend at under $5,000.