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Case Study: Whack the Mayor!

Whack the Mayor

Whack The Mayor echoed official poll results.

Challenge: Create maximum buzz with a limited budget.

The objective was to demonstrate the potential of an online promotion or event to engage a mainstream audience, and to generate publicity in the traditional media. In order to reach the audience, the promotion must reflect their current interests, concerns, and attitude. And, it must give them a reward for participating. To benefit from publicity, the event must offer media professionals insight, or an alternative point of view, on a topical issue that allows reporters to develop a compelling story.

Solution: Whack The Mayor!

The Whack the Mayor website, at, gave voters an opportunity to hear the candidates’ wackiest answers to the hottest election issues, and then whack the ones they didn’t like on the head. The candidates were asked tough questions about delivering on promises, dumping the trash, their past sins, and the kicker, “Why should I vote for you?” The answers were based on the candidates’ actual statements, but were satirically enhanced to ward off election-night boredom. Published results were based on the order in which candidates were “whacked” by visitors to the site. After the first week, a press release was issued on Canada Newswire to publicize the current results which included detailed stats.

Results: Whack-a-mania!

Whack The Mayor hit a nerve! The public relished the opportunity to whack some sense into the candidates, and laughed at the game’s twisted sense of humour. Over 14,000 visitors administered more than 70,000 whacks in the two weeks leading up to the Toronto election. The media in television, print and radio ate up the wacky, but detailed stats, we provided. The Toronto Star, National Post, CBC Radio, 680 News, Toronto 1 News, Toronto 1 Last Call, and Centennial College Observer, all published Whack The Mayor stories. And even the candidates themselves were asked to give their opinion on the Whack the Mayor website. In the final result, the total value delivered in buzz – traffic and publicity – far exceeded the costs.

Here is some of the feedback from the media and public:

“Though by no means a scientific poll, the game does offer some insight into the mindset of the electorate”.
James Cowan, National Post

“Big Whack Attack! Tired of the rhetoric and finger-pointing, and the endless round of debates that have so far marked the Toronto Mayoral Race? Want to vent your frustrations, but still stand up and be counted? Check out”.
The Toronto Star

“Whack some sense into the candidates before it's too late... with a silly but somewhat insightful way to figure out who you want to be mayor.”
Scott Simpson, 680 News

“I LOVED Whack the Mayor!”
George Anthony, Director, Arts & Entertainment, CBC Television

“Thanks for the whacky fun.”
Michelle Daly, The Comedy Network

“Very cute and very clever.”
Mark Federman, Chief Strategist, McLuhan Center

“VERY, VERY, VERY funny.........I had a blast whacking them all and I do not even know them and still laughed! Thanks for making me smile.”
Stephen Rothman, Theatre Arts Chair, California State University, L.A

Demo Site

Visit the Whack the Mayor website.

2003 Press: Torontonians whack some sense into city's future mayor

See also: Whack the PM from 2004

Toronto 1 Reviews Whack the Mayor

Toronto 1

“ is capturing the imagination
of voters while at the same time educating them
on some of the big issues”

Robert Maxell
Toronto 1 News