At the time, I was a copywriter at an agency well known for shoe ads, and my client was a very large software company. I was new at the agency, and thanks to my total lack of knowledge about my client’s product, I was able to contribute to the fear, uncertainty and doubt about the looming calendar change.
I was working on a B2B campaign for server software, of which I knew very little. But I at least knew what a server was, and thus I was vastly more knowledgeable than many of my colleagues, who would have much preferred to work on the shoe account. I read everything I could about SQL software, looking for a hook, but, let’s face it: in the relational database world, SQL is SQL is SQL. I had nothing. Until I noticed a comment box on a client Word doc with the cryptic question, “Y2K compatible????” A second note replied, “Yes. Y2K is a joke”
I perked up. If there was nothing else I could say about the SQL software — and there was nothing — I could at least pump up the fear and uncertainty about the looming “Millennial Bug” and note that even if the rest of civilization collapsed, end users could at least enter the apocalypse confident that their SQL server would work.
So, I made the entire campaign about Y2K fever. It was baked into every element of that campaign, perhaps in part because I was too lazy to figure out how to convey the value of integrated OLAP services. The campaign was incongruously successful, and I was pulled from the B2B side of the office to the consumer side to inject Y2K into a campaign for a new consumer software product. Then of course, 2000 arrived, nothing happened, and we all moved on.