Mister Splashy Pants
Mister Splashy Pants, or Mr. Splashypants, is the name of a humpback whale in the South Pacific Ocean. It is currently being tracked with a satellite tag by Greenpeace as a part of its Great Whale Trail Expedition, which was working to raise awareness about whales threatened by the Japanese Fisheries Agency's plan to hunt 50 humpback whales. The whale's name was chosen in an online poll that garnered attention from several websites, including Boing Boing and Reddit, quickly becoming an internet meme. Mister Splashy Pants became the subject of a TED Talk by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, titled "How to make a splash in social media."
Originally, Greenpeace had accepted 30 names for voting. Among the more new-age-sounding names was what was probably intended as a joke, "Mr. Splashy Pants". On November 26, 2007, the user of an IP address in Arizona, United States found a way around the one-vote system by disabling cookies, and began voting at 120 votes per minute for 38 minutes without pause.
The massive leap in votes for the name attracted the attention of b3ta.com, 4chan's /b/ board, BoingBoing, reddit, Digg, and numerous blogs. Though Greenpeace removed the extra votes from the results, users from the social networking sites flocked to vote for the name, and the percentage moved quickly from 5 percent to 75 percent in less than a day. In response to the spike, Greenpeace decided to hold the competition open for an extra week, until the 7th of December. Reddit took the voting so seriously that they temporarily changed their logo to feature Mr. Splashy Pants. Facebook also began garnering interest, and a Facebook application was created with the tagline "Vote your conscience, vote Splashy Pants." On the 30th, Fark.com posted a thread linking to the voting as well, and for a few days internet traffic on the Greenpeace server spiked to almost untenable levels.
There was some controversy over the naming, with TreeHugger and an associated blog initially claiming that the name was not beautiful enough, and seeking to instigate votes for the other names. According to Greenpeace insider Brian Fitzgerald, the name also was controversial within the organisation.
On December 10, 2007, Mister Splashy Pants was announced as the winner of the competition. 150,000 people reportedly voted, and 'Splashy' received 119,367, over 78 percent of the votes. The nearest rival was Humphrey at 4,329 votes, or less than 3 percent. The other top ten names, like Aiko, Libertad, Mira, Kaimana, Aurora, Shanti, Amal and Manami, received less than 1 percent each. Reddit alone was responsible for 20,322 of the votes.
After their initial reluctance Greenpeace embraced the result of the popular vote and used the name at the center of its campaign. The added publicity, at no cost to Greenpeace, gave it enough impact to convince the Japanese government, and the plan to hunt Humpback whales was abandoned in December 2007.
In Campaign Magazine, advertising guru Russell Davies praised Greenpeace's handling of the campaign as "one of the defining moments in New Media marketing." The name has since spawned clothing, logos, flashvideos, and the slogan "Save Mister Splashy Pants."
The Mr. Splashy Pants logo, created by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, turned up at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota the same day as a front page story appeared on Reddit stating that the college had erected a wall at the request of Muslim students to separate men from women in the college's meditation room. The image was placed there after the Reddit community protested the wall on their forums.
The movements of Mr. Splashy Pants and other tracked whales may be followed on Greenpeace's website.
- On November 6, 2009, in Mysore, India, Alexis Ohanian presented a TED Talk at TED India entitled "How to make a splash in social media" about the Mister Splashy Pants saga. His conclusion was, that on the Web, "You lose control over your message, − and that's OK."
- Timothy Marshall (2007-11-29). "Whale name makes a big splash". Retrieved 2007-12-10.
- Cory Doctorow (2007-11-26). "Mr Splashy Pants in the lead for Greenpeace whale-naming competition". Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- Kristen Nicole (2007-12-12). "Mr. Splashy Pants and the Tale of a Hijacked PR Campaign". Retrieved 2007-12-10.
- TEDIndia. "Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media". Retrieved 2012-11-12.
- "Mister Splashy Pants Fan". 2007-11-27. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- b3ta.com (2007-11-26). "Greenpeace want to name a whale". Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- Moneyries (2007-11-27). "Mister Splashy Pants - Part 2". Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- Bonnie Alter (2007-12-05). "Name That Whale. Quickly!". Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- AbiSylvester (2007-12-05). "'Mister Splashy Pants' emerges as clear favourite in Greenpeace whale-naming competition". Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- Brian Fitzgerald (2007-12-03). "What nearly killed Mister Splashy Pants". Retrieved 2007-12-03.
- "Mister Splashy Pants the whale - you named him, now save him". 2007-12-10. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
- Brianfit (2007-12-14). "Mister Splashy Pants. Precisely who is responsible for this nonsense?". Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- Greenpeace.org: Humpbacks to be spared the harpoon -- for now
- Russel Davies (2008-11-28). "Media Perspective: Make sure you know your audience - and what you stand for.". Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- treehugger.com (2007-12-14). "Mister Splashy Pants for President.". Retrieved 2007-12-27.
- "Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media".
- b3ta.com - The original b3ta thread.
- reddit.com - The original reddit thread
- Treehugger.com - The original TreeHugger thread
- BoingBoing.com - The original BoingBoing thread
- Fark.com - The original Fark thread from 12/1/07