June 22, 2016

Advertising a Community: How Sasquatch Became Your Ideal Next-Door Neighbor


About a month ago the City of Shoreline, located about 9 miles north of downtown Seattle, WA, launched a video challenging the misperceptions that the people of the Pacific Northwest (and, possibly, all of America) hold of the “mythical” creature Sasquatch – all while highlighting his peaceful, yet vibrant life in the City of Shoreline, a city of about 53,000 residents.

The Content

This 5-minute mockumentary-style video shows “Squatch” – as he prefers to be called – a web developer, walking along the beach, engaging with the manager of the local Central Market as he buys heaps of meat, playing basketball with friends at the local court and relaxing at a dive bar, Darrell’s, where, according to his friend Nate, he is “putting himself out there” and looking for “the right one,” but never missing a Taco Tuesday. From start to finish the piece is funny. It’s unexpected and strange and it nails relevancy by incorporating a figure from regional folklore. Beyond this, by the end of the video we care about Squatch. We care about his friendships, his community and, yes, the prejudices he has faced.

….So What?

All of this isn’t without purpose. At the end, the “documentarian” asks the question: “What other answers can be found in Shoreline?” The story that Shoreline’s economic development program manager was hoping to tell was that of a “best-kept secret.” Sasquatch as a flannel-wearing, paleo, basketball nut was certainly a secret. The humor of the piece, as well as the aspects of the community it chooses to highlight, targets its millennial audience wonderfully. The result? 25,000 views in the video’s first month and 5,000 unique visits to the website The message being sent by the City of Shoreline is delicately woven throughout the piece – hearsay can be misleading. Get to know a person, an area, and they might just surprise you. In other words: give Shoreline a chance, you millennials, you.

Let Us Entertain You!

When it comes to advertising a community, this video was a departure. It didn’t show the community as a whole, didn’t show manicured lawns or the perfect Subaru-driving neighbor with 2.5 kids and a passion for yoga. No, it showed a larger-than-life unreal figure that was humanized and relatable, but didn’t feel like a cliché and was so bizarre that you couldn’t help but keep watching. Visit the site and there are the typical lists of amenities, conveniences, parks, pet-friendly areas and so on. But what this ad does so well, and what other marketers in this space can take from it, is that millennial audiences want to be entertained. Capture attention first and give facts and figures later. Create a viral sensation, a humorous clip (or anything really) that feels different, and the millennials will come in droves. Creating a sense of shared experience between the consumer and the marketer is a fairly new notion, but it’s crucial to creating meaningful content. Don’t demand attention; earn it. Unearth the unexpected and maybe you’ll find a Sasquatch in your community too.