From America’s hallowed land of cheese comes a case study about what can happen when a popular viral movement gets adapted by a commerce-driven entity.
With an eye to the University of Wisconsin-promoting video Teach Me How to Bucky, above, the Wisconsin county of Sheboygan has launched a new tourism campaign, “How do you Sheboygan?” Local reaction is hostile, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work (though it probably won’t).[more]
Created by a couple of Wisconsin university students, Teach me How to Bucky became a viral hit last autumn (with more than 1.6 million views on YouTube) as the Badger football team made its run to the Rose Bowl. The feel-good hit captured the spirit of the university and inspired many imitators, including Teach Me How to Raji after the Green Bay Packers star defenseman:
The group responsible for “Teach Me” went on to make a follow up for the Badgers’ Rose Bowl game titled “We’re Smelling Roses.” Additionally, “Teach Me How to Bucky” t-shirts are now common sights around the state. The video remains a great recruitment tool for the school.
While tourism officials have not admitted to the connection between the “How to Bucky” viral and the county’s “How do you Sheboygan?” campaign, it’s a clear homage.
The campaign is featured on billboards between Sheboygan (an hour north of Milwaukee) and Chicago, several tourism magazines and, officials claim, the website Visitsheboygan.com — although we could’t find it on that website, where another tagline “Sheboygan. So much. So close” exists. Nor could we find it anywhere on the website for the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce. Two oversights that suggest that the answer to the question “How do you Sheboygan?” may very well be, “Not well.”
Tourism officials told the Sheboygan Press that the campaign will include a video contest challenging users to demonstrate how they “do Sheboygan.”
The paradox of the “How do you Sheboygan?” campaign is that it will be received in two completely different ways by two different groups. Locals familiar with the “Teach me how to Bucky” craze will make the connection, while those out of state are far less likely to understand the homage.
If comments on the Sheboygan Press website are anything to go by, local reaction to the campaign is predictable. A “waste of money” is a common sentiment, while others are more specific: “How ’bout ‘Come hang out with our numerous registered sex offenders!'”
One local radio show isn’t doing the campaign any favors, but then “Local Smartass Mocks Local Tourism Campaign” could be a headline in The Onion (another product of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, by the way).
The problem with the campaign for outsiders is that it asks a question that (a) outsiders don’t connect to the “Bucky” viral; and (b) is impossible to answer because it doesn’t make any sense. (How do I Sheboygan? What the hell’s a Sheboygan?)
The best hope for the campaign is that it will attract the eyeballs of potential visitors who think it’s a giant typo.
Or maybe they’re more familiar with the better-known internet viral video sensation (and remix), Teach Me How to Dougie by Cali Swag District, whose member Monte “M Bone” Talbert was killed this week, and which has at least one fan in the White House:
So, how do you Sheboygan? Ambitiously, very ambitiously.