Penguins in Sweaters

According to Google Analytics, the hits to my blogs have been steadily declining over the last few posts, and I’m not sure why. It could be my content–maybe my articles have been written poorly. Or it could be the subject matter. In a cyber world inundated with blogs and authors pounding out character after character on direct marketing and social media, maybe there’s just too much noise. There could be a myriad of reasons why. Ultimately, there is a random confluence of things that have limited my readership.

In marketing, the general mantra is to go with what works until it stops working, and then try something new–or go back to basics. With the advent of the internet, this means that photos of cats with adorable captions is the go-to to drive blog traffic. But my lovely wife sent me something much more meaningful yesterday, PENGUINS IN SWEATERS. Yes, that’s right. Penguins in sweaters! No pants of course, because that would violate the laws of cartoon biology. Now unfortunately, you just can’t find Creative Commons licensed photos of penguins in sweaters these days like you used to, so I’ll just have to share a couple of links.

Here’s the interesting thing about penguins in sweaters. It isn’t some Halloween pet torture passed down from the Inquisition to today. Instead, it serves as a useful enhancement for the tuxedo wearing birds that are the victims of oil spills. Many of the links included today describe the problem in-depth, but here’s a little background. When you get crude oil from a spill on the feathers of a penguin it displaces the natural oils on their feathers. The natural oil helps to keep them warm and provides waterproofing. Also, penguins clean their feathers with their beaks meaning they ingest the oil and, as we all remember from that kid in third grade who would eat anything, crude oil is bad for you. The sweaters keep the penguins warm and prevent them from eating the oil until they are rehabilitated and can be released back into the wild.

Now, this story has popped up several times over the last decade as oil-spill troubles affect the region around Australia and New Zealand. For some adorably compelling reason, people feel they must continue to knit penguin sweaters. They’ve knitted so many that the Tasmanian Conservation Trust has collected 15,000 sweaters to be included in their oil spill response kits. With that many sweaters available the little penguins (Eudyptula minor for those scoring in Latin) could probably be renamed the Dr. Cliff Huxtable penguins.

However, the backlog of mini-sweaters helps out only one small area. With the current oil spill off the coast of Tauranga, the most populous city on the northern island of New Zealand, there is a need for penguin sweaters somewhere other than Tasmania. Knitters and penguin lovers all over the globe are able to spread the word via social media that 1,300 birds have been killed by the 300 tons of oil that have already washed up on the beaches, and provide a simple call to action (well it’s a simple call to action if you can knit). For example, a friend of my wife’s came across the Skeinz blog referenced above, she posted it to Facebook, my wife read it, forwarded it to me and now I’m sharing it with you since my typing is only slightly better than my knitting.

What does this have to do with marketing, social media or blogging? Probably not much other than on the internet, a blog about penguins in sweaters will always trump the next article about Facebook or email marketing. To put it another way, old fashioned ideas, such as knitting, doesn’t necessarily mean old fashioned marketing. Even if the vehicle for communicating your message has changed, it doesn’t mean you have to redefine the message.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put this tracksuit on a polar bear.


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