Thomas Cantley approached me in August 2014, offering the chance to accompany him to assist with filming and media outreach for his Mr. Ballsy campaign. As tempting the offer, due to the impending final year of my studies that was about to begin in September, I had to decline. Instead, we decided I would head up his digital marketing and social media efforts while I remained in Kelowna. It couldn’t have worked out any better. We discussed a social and web strategy and ultimately settled on using his website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, each to their strengths.
The journey began on September 3rd in Santa Monica, California. With cold social platforms and no real media attention, we started to tweet at popular figures to gain their attention. Jalen Rose, an ex-NBA player and current ESPN analyst, was the first one to help out our cause. Bif Naked and Lance Armstrong soon followed suit. While these “breakthroughs” bolstered morale, we were still struggling in the Golden State. Thomas decided to take Lefty Jr. ( the 6 ft. inflatable testicle) to Venice Beach to garner some attention, and it worked. A local Silicon Valley business magazine ran a story on Thomas. However, an awesome web presence wasn’t going to be enough. We needed the help of local news stations.
Our hearts set on the small screen, we started sending out press releases to media outlets around the state. After floundering for a few days near the Bay Area, we were contacted by KSBW, a local news station in Salinas, California, that wanted to give him a live spot. The ticker eloquently read: “Salinas man traveling cross country with inflatable testicle.” Blunt, honest, and effective.
After his spot on the local news, Thomas’ social media traffic, website hits, and general interest grew dramatically. News outlets from San Francisco started to call Thomas and people were beginning to get wind of the campaign.
With the help of the Bay Area media, Thomas and the crew finally made it out of California as gifts (food, travel money, sponsorships) started to roll in.
Las Vegas was the next stop and the team took full advantage of that frenzy. Upon reaching Phoenix, a van was donated to Thomas by ServerHub, a web hosting company that became the primary sponsor of the campaign. Travel became a lot more efficient after that. It had taken 14 days to make it out of California and only 24 to make it through the next 14 states. We continued to follow our formula for each city we crossed, and the media requests continued to roll in from newspapers, radio, and news stations. Thomas also had a guest spot on an episode of The Doctors which was aired during the campaign.
Digital media outlets started to pick up Thomas’ story globally. Cities in China, Russia, Denmark, Scotland, and Australia to name a few started writing stories about Thomas’ efforts. The Today Show did a web feature that stayed on their homepage for 24 hours. Cosmopolitan Magazine, Esquire Magazine, E! Online, The Young Turks, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Houston Chronicle, and The International Business Times all ran stories on the campaign. Thomas even appeared on Australia’s most popular breakfast television show after the campaign had finished to recount his experience. His mission was to raise awareness, and everyone that played a part in the campaign was certain that he had done that.
Along the journey, the team was sponsored by ServerHub, received box seats to watch the Arizona Coyotes play hockey, performed stand up comedy in Austin, Texas, met with the Houston City Council, stayed with country singer Tebey in Nashville, met with members of the US Army in Oklahoma, received a tattoo from Cleen Rock One from Spike’s Ink Master, caught a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony show and were met by them after the event, received an end-of-campaign party from The Huffington Post, and made the #1 spot on reddit.com. Not too shabby.
Once “that guy from reddit” became an unofficial title for Thomas, we had the surreal realization that the campaign had gone viral around the world.
I look back at what we accomplished and am still in awe of what effective team work can accomplish. A social media campaign managed out of my Kelowna studio has been seen by millions of viewers across the world. Whether it’s a testicular cancer awareness campaign or anything you’re passionate about, know that everyone is capable of great things. The hardest step is always the first one. And who knows, you might just go viral:
If you’re looking to hire out your social media or digital marketing, give Reuben a call at (604) 832-8637 or e-mail him at reuben[at]themediastore.org.