The CDC and the Zombie Apocolypse

Yes, of course I love zombies.  Who doesn’t?  From The Walking Dead to World War Z, there is a ton of great zombie entertainment out there.  Zombieland28 Days LaterNight of the Living Dead?  I am a multiple viewer.  There is something primal about mindless enemies and the perseverance of the human spirit to overcome. And yes, there is very much a message in there about consumerism and commercialism.  That’s ok.  It’s still fun to watch.

So this week, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published a blog post about surviving a zombie apocalypse.  And while I can hear the fiscal conservatives decrying the waste of public funds on such drivel, I find it brilliant.

What does it say?  Mostly the usual.  Have an emergency kit with food, water, batteries, etc.  Stay safe, listen for news.  At least, that’s my best guess.  The site has been crashed by the sheer volume of people trying to read it.  The announcement was the top post on Twitter that day.  For the CDC.


Why is this remarkable?  Well, when was the last time you visited their site?  I’m guessing never.  Yet just by framing the discussion of “disaster preparedness” in a way that grabbed people’s attention, the author (Dave Daigle) brought a tremendous number of eyes to the topic.  Some of it will stick.  Some of it will inspire action.  The country might just be a little better equipped for the next natural disaster.  Or the first known zombie outbreak.

I have worked on a lot of projects that I would consider not as uninteresting as the CDC, but close.  I’m willing to bet you have to.  Don’t hesitate to take a page from them, then, in learning to trumpet your cause with some creative topic stretching.  For instance, you could try:

  • How to keep your loved ones informed in case of Alien Invasion at work.  (Promoting a new self service software.)
  • Vampires are health conscious, too!  (Cholesterol testing.)
  • We’ve hidden your paycheck.  Want to know where it is?  (Information about an office relocation.)
  • Help!  I’m a Nigerian prince who needs help getting my money out of the country!  (Hmm…I think this one has been used.)

The point is, getting the attention you need in this world full of constant input can be tough.  Change your message and be creative.  It will put you ahead of the pack.


  1. Dwane, you outdid yourself on this hilarious post. This is the best thing I’ve read all week.

    My best,

    @HRMargo Rose
    Founder of HireFriday & HFChat

  2. I agree with you. I have visited their site, it is excellent – a great resource. Government does tons of great stuff and tons of stuff worthy of criticism. Unfortunately many government organizations turn into fear driven organizations and runs from anything that a small number of people might whine about, which doesn’t help. Just because something is fun and takes a less than serious tone doesn’t mean it is not useful. I enjoyed a NSF press release from years back that mentioned the “ministry of silly walks.” It is too bad those against science research are reducing the USA role in that area. Thankfully for the world, countries like China and South Korea are greatly increasing scientific research spending. The world will benefit – though those countries will benefit even more than the rest of us.

  3. I quite agree with the sentiments expressed by Margo! But let’s not leave out both (the original) Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead from the celebration of highpoints in the artistic representation of zombies.

    There’s also been quite a spate of zombie-related posts in the world of HR blogs of late, with recent works by both @dougshaw1 and @jrkuhns, and periodic activity on the #zombieHR hashtag on Twitter.

    Be prepared.


    • The failure to include Shaun is an egregious error, and one for which I cannot even ask forgiveness. Self-flogging to being in 3….2….1….

  4. Dwane,

    Great post here! I agree that this was absolutely brilliant marketing by the CDC. I can’t believe how much press this is getting. I’ve heard people refer to this as a rediculous waste of government funds and time while simultaniously pulling up the web site to read the post for themselves.

    I work in a manufacturing enviorment where incorporating safety in to everything we do is imperitive. This has been a huge challenge. There is nothing that evokes drowzines more than watching an OSHA video on emergency evacuation or hazardous communication. My team has constantly looked for ways to “liven up” our safety training, programs and postings. Zombies for emergency preparedness… I can only wish I would have connected the dots!

    I’ll be looking for the CDC/Zombieland follow-up on how to incorporate the “30 rules” of surviving a zombie attack. I’ve already incorporated the “double tap” in to our progressive disciplinary policy.



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