Thrashers campaign is over-the-top genius

The NHL's Atlanta Thrashers, in the midst of a solid season and boasting one of its most talented teams in franchise history, have launched a totally over-the-top marketing campaign designed to drive ticket sales. What did they do? Oh, just your typical run-of-the-mill team mascot steals a Zamboni (with a "Buy Tickets, Atlanta" sign taped to the side), drives it along the Georgia interstate, gets arrested and thrown in jail -- until 5,000 tickets have been sold to upcoming games. That's right. Thrash is in jail and the only way to spring him is to buy hockey tickets.

So, I looked into the stunt, and it's a sophisticated, multi-platform promotion, supported by the team's Facebook page, website and the team's Twitter feed. Moreover, it appears to have the cooperation of the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office. The videos on the team's site are the right mix of "official" and campy, and the Facebook page and Twitter feeds are updated regularly with Free Thrash updates.

I happen to have a soft spot for mascots (ok fine, maybe it's a mild obsession; ok fine, it's sort of a major obsession), so when I first heard about this, I wanted to buy tickets just so Thrash could be free to do what he does best -- entertain his fans. But because I live in New York City, all I could do was write about this outrageous publicity stunt in the hopes that any of you in Atlanta will do the right thing and spring Thrash from the pokey. Free Thrash!

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