We all dream of coming up with that killer video idea that will break the internet.
And an infamous ‘sewer monster’ campaign me and my mate Kenny (more of whom later) delivered for a water company, certainly qualifies.
I was asked me to come up with a campaign to encourage households not to flush so-called ‘disposable’ wipes down the loo. These things are kryptonite to sewers, as they clump together, block the pipes and cause all sorts of unmentionable goo to come back up from the depths.
“How about we create a sewer monster?” I suggested. “You know, a bit like that that urban myth about alligators in the New York sewers.”
“Great idea,” said the client. “Can you do it for twenty pence?”
Thankfully, my mate Kenny is a rather extraordinary animator (check him out at tinspider.com). I was able to provide Kenny with some footage of sewers beneath Manchester, captured on remote control cameras by sewer engineers. He then added ‘Boggy’ – a beautifully realised little creature who likes to dart from shadows.
We managed to convince a number of regional newspapers and websites to run an April Fool’s story about sightings of the sewer monster. This was a year or so before paid-for social really came into its own. Back then, we didn’t have fake news and promoted posts. We had April’s Fool stories and newspapers made from real paper. It was a more innocent time.
We knew we were onto something when we’d hit 20,000 YouTube views by lunchtime on April 1. Fast forward to 2017, and the sewer monster has had many millions of views, and is still going strong.
In among the thousands of comments about aliens and Elvis’s hiding place, the cautionary tale about disposable wipes persists.
I live in hope that my next campaign will create just as much of a glorious stink as good old Boggy did.