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Aped by Drake: The Phreak615 Campaign

2008 was my favourite year at MuchMusic. And clearly Drake liked it too.

We created a viral marketing campaign for the MMVAs called Phreak615. The stunt involved “Phreak615” very convincingly, hacking into the much broadcast. He did it multiple times and bragged about his conquests on his blog (the first blog I ever wrote)

This past Friday there was an apparent hack of Sport’s Centre’s Morning show, promoting Certified Loverboy and yo, Drake clearly sampled our campaign:

“Phreak” was an homage to Phone Phreaking; hacking into telecommunications to obtain free calls using home brew computer boxes or if you can believe it, a whistle from a Captain Crunch cereal box. It was a counter culture movement that included a young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. 615 referred to the date of the MMVAs. June 15th.

By every measure the campaign was a smashing success. Engagement. Viewership. Awards and external mainstream press. But perhaps the best testament to its effectiveness was that engineering came within a hair’s breadth of actually shutting down MuchMusic because they really did believe the broadcast had been hijacked. In order to make it as real as possible we had kept the campaign a complete secret. Only the president of Chum and the creative department knew it was an advertising campaign.

"The MuchMusic Video Awards average audience skyrocketed on MuchMusic while enjoyed huge increases in site activity. And thousands of fans got in on MMVAs fun as part of a secret Much viral marketing campaign. Not even a torrential downpour during MuchMusic's 19th annual freewheeling awards spectacle could wash away the show's ratings success. The station saw a 43% increase over last year in its P12-34 AMA during the 9 p.m. ET broadcast."

Drake would have been 22 years old at the time

Of course what he likely doesn’t know is that I sampled it as well. From a real event that took place in Chicago in 1987: The Max Headroom signal hijacking. Despite an FCC investigation and decades of speculation, the culprits were never caught and have not been positively identified.

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