CAM the Ram is the official mascot for Colorado State University. A number of Rambouillet sheep have served as the iconic symbol of our institution since CAM got his name in 1954. On September 19, 2015, our beloved CAM died from natural causes.
Our social media team took on a unique and challenging mission: Introduce the next CAM while allowing our students, alumni, and fans to mourn the loss of the ridiculously cute mascot they had grown to love.
CAM's death was sudden and unexpected. So, too, was our campaign. Our social channels have become a reliable source of campus-related information and news for Colorado State, so addressing the issue was necessary. But we needed to act nimbly and delicately. Varying demographics comprise our social platforms, and our execution required microtargeting in order to reach each audience with the appropriate message.
The main objective was to execute well-timed social media coverage allowing CAM's fans time to grieve his loss and then celebrate his re-introduction.
A secondary objective stemmed from a public relations perspective. CAM's death occurred the morning of our annual football matchup versus in-state rival University of Colorado. The nature of this rivalry generated rumors surrounding CAM's cause of death. We utilized various social media channels to steer conversation in the direction of memories celebrating CAM's life rather than suspicion regarding his death.
Our first priority was to allow the football rivalry chaos to pass before breaking the news. Spirits were already low after an overtime loss. A six-month-old CAM the Ram in-training attended the game in CAM's place, which allowed us to gather content to use during the announcement. Facebook is our most powerful publishing platform with a primary audience of students, parents, and alumni. We broke the news gently with an adorable photo of the next CAM the Ram, accompanied by the following text:
Passing the torch.
Introducing CAM the Ram 25. We're excited to watch him grow up!
Sadly, CAM 24 passed away peacefully of natural causes this weekend. We're thankful for the many memories he shared with our Ramily.
Deep breath. The news was out. We shared the photo on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. On to the next campaign agenda item: Monitor the conversation and keep rumors from spreading. We cry-face-emoji'ed right there along with our sad students. And, most importantly, we answered pressing questions regarding CAM's death by providing facts from the experts who cared for CAM in his last moments and declared the death as a result of natural causes.
Our social media announcement garnered two types of responses—those expressing sadness over CAM 24's death and those excited about the adorable CAM 25's new job. We owed it to our little buddy CAM 24, who our team had grown close to in recent months, to honor his legacy with a memorial post. So that's just what we did. For Facebook, we asked fans to share photos of themselves with CAM. On Instagram, we asked students to tag us in photos they had posted of CAM. The love poured in. People joined in with memories from years and years ago.
The fact that we operate an official Snapchat account for CAM the Ram posed a unique predicament. Our Snapchat voice is first-person and sassy. That tone wouldn't bode well for breaking the news. So we went the most appropriate route we could think of before transitioning the voice to the young, still sassy CAM the Ram 25. We had the Ram Handlers (students who look after CAM) post a personal, heartfelt message to all of CAM's Snapchat followers. The message was raw and authentic. It was closure.
Following the mourning stage, it was time to smile. So we did a social blitz on our platforms to showcase CAM 25 and all his youthfulness with a series of content celebrating his new duty as a university mascot. We took to Vine to provide an inside look into his first public appearance and to showcase his vigor as he leaped onto a boulder. We captioned the latter "Our mascot is cuter than your mascot." Our Instagram offered a beautifully captured profile shot of his snout that didn't quite yet fit. As a final phase, we published a photo album on Facebook to document the first official football game debut for seven-month-old CAM.
Pave the way for Colorado State supporters to grieve the loss of a beloved mascot and celebrate the introduction of a new one: Check.
CAM's death caught us by surprise, but the campaign we orchestrated was a success. Our Facebook post announcing CAM 24's death and proclaiming CAM 25 as the new torch bearer garnered an organic reach of 251,298, which was a 465% increase from our average photo reach during 2015. Along with over 5,000 likes came 169 comments declaring their sadness over the loss and excitement over the new Ram family member.
The same photo posted to Instagram is our most-liked content ever. The 3,381 likes were a 296% increase from the average like per photo (853) in 2015. This mega-reach successfully achieved our goal of breaking the news in a positive light. Our memorial posts inspired approximately 200 combined comments, many of which were accompanied by personal photos of CAM's fans posing with him.
And the introduction of CAM 25? That photo is our third most-liked Instagram post to this date. Our Vine microvideos received an average of 11,207 loops during a time when our average Vine loop count was 984 – a 1,039% increase. The number of comments declaring him "cute" and "adorable" was overwhelming and also an indicator that we had successfully allowed enough time to grieve and could now celebrate as a community.
Though the journey was unexpected, utilizing a multi-platform campaign was the most effective way to honor our mascot's life and death.
Fill out the form below and we'll work on connecting you to the entry creator!