What If? Colorado

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment – What If? Colorado: A reality competition impacts reality

In March 2007, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Division (EPRD) of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment began working with GFM Buzz, the experiential marketing practice of GroundFloor Media, to help increase the number of Colorado residents who assemble home emergency preparedness kits and who receive seasonal influenza vaccinations. The cornerstone of the campaign was the What If? Colorado reality competition, a multi-day event during which nine Colorado residents lived together in a house and faced a variety of challenges designed to test their emergency preparedness skills and knowledge. Coloradans were encouraged to submit video “auditions” through YouTube, which were also shown on the campaign’s microsite, www.WhatIfColorado.com, and voted on by the public.

Once the contestants were chosen, they actively engaged in social media, blogging and participating in online webisodes. During the campaign, WhatIfColorado.com offered an online tool for people to calculate the quantities of food, water and other items needed for their emergency kits. The GFM Buzz team conducted viral outreach by seeding messages on blogs and other popular social mediums, such as Cafemom.com, Facebook, Meetup.com, Wannago.com, YouTube, Twiter, Vimeo and Revver.com.

The reality competition webisodes on the What If? Colorado website were viewed more than 30,000 times, and the EPRD considered the campaign a huge success, as the number of Coloradans who had emergency preparedness kits in their homes increased following the campaign.