Came across this release tonight that tells the story (the final chapter given the precariousness of continued funding?) of the VERB campaign.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency usually known for stopping epidemics, will try to create one with a $59.2 million TV and viral marketing program in which it will distribute 300,000 yellow balls to curb child obesity.
The core of the effort will be Verb Yellowball, which was inspired by yellow bike programs in Amsterdam; Seattle; Austin, Texas; and elsewhere. Those cities provided bicycles that residents would ride and then leave on the street for the next user.
Yellowball comes with instructions to play with the ball and then log onto Verbnow.com. Kids then enter the code printed on the ball and create a blog telling the world what they did with it. They also can read the blogs of other kids who touched that same ball. Then they have the obligation to keep play alive by giving the ball to another kid.
"We're trying to get play into kids' hands," said Lori Asbury, the CDC's marketing director. "Our early efforts were about creating awareness that physical activity was important and fun for them. Now we're going to be much more about activation."
Yellowball will be given momentum online with contests for the most inspired play or the ball that is passed the most, and prizes like free music downloads given to every kid who touched the winning ball.
If nothing else, a creative ending to a social marketing campaign that should be just getting its legs - not losing them.