How To Eat Brains And Build A Brand

October 7, 2011

“How’s the liver, today?”

Taylor Carik, one of the original founders of the Minneapolis Zombie Pub Crawl, sits across from me nibbling on today’s specialty, brains with a side of liver. Not the typical fare for an interview. But since I’m sitting across from a zombie extraordinaire, I consider myself lucky to keep my own limbs. Plus, I’m trying not to stare at the lump of masticated flesh rolling around in his mouth.

(OK, I didn’t really conduct a Cosmo-style interview with Carik while he dined on entrails. I spoke with him over the phone … and I don’t think he was eating anything gross at the time.)

By day, Carik is editor of “Secrets of the City” at MSP Communications and a digital consultant. By night, especially the evening of the Zombie Pub Crawl, he’s a member of the walking dead. Seven years ago, Carik and his friends brazenly decided to bring zombies to Minneapolis with their very own pub crawl. Close to 100 zombies descended on northeast Minneapolis and attendance steadily doubled each year.

Soon, northeast was overrun with the brain-mongering living dead in neighborhood bars and the pandemic moved to the West Bank of Minneapolis. Carik answered some questions while poking at his plate of brains.

The pub crawl outgrew Northeast Minneapolis, any chance of reaching capacity at West Bank?

No, but we’ve extended the Zombie Pub Crawl to St. Paul this year so every grotesque blood-covered zombies can join in the fun, even those who aren’t 21. We started planning early on because of concerns with light rail construction and capacity –- working heavily with liquor inspectors and venues to make sure everyone enjoys the awesome party and zombie deals.


Last year’s Zombie Pub Crawl was pretty crazy, the undead came running out of the woodwork and wrecked havoc on the streets.

We’re definitely more prepared for the volume this year. As of right now, attendance is at 14,000 but the zombies can stalk brains inside bars or at block parties. The Nomad has its Bocce courts tented off, Acadia rented a parking lot and the street in front of The Cabooze will be shut down.

Now that the event is so huge, how have logistics evolved and changed?

The Zombie Pub Crawl isn’t a traditional event. We start with our big idea for the year, this year it’s having the pub crawl in Minneapolis and St. Paul — but we’re not brand conscious, so planning is mainly focused on what we personally think would be cool. Our bands are an example of that, Andrew WK and Two Live Crew are different artists but they fit the crowd and people like them.

Cavorting around Minneapolis as a zombie isn’t for everyone, we know that. It’s a crazy event.

Pre-sale tickets for the Minneapolis bars already sold out, I’m assuming attendance isn’t a marketing goal.

We already have an audience so we don’t use marketing. All of our communications tools are used to share information and our messaging. We have support for the event so the strategy is different – once you have the people, how do you let them know what’s happening?

Proof that tennis players can't escape the undead from the Zombie Pub Crawl Flickr channel.

Twitter is used to answer questions and engage with our audience. Lately, it’s been a great resource for customer service and we’re able to provide real time updates about the status of tickets and drink lines during the pub crawl. Facebook is used for many of the same messaging and communication reasons, but people also can invite their friends to the pub crawl.

Surprisingly, our greatest messaging mechanism is Flickr and word of mouth. People have a positive experience, document it and share it with their friends. People will always say that they heard about the Zombie Pub Crawl online and saw cool photos on our Flickr stream. There is a lot of image-based “word of mouth” in the social space that acts as proof of how fun the crawl is.

Since I can’t stand to watch you eat brains anymore, I have to ask, what are the best and worst zombie costumes that you’ve seen?

 The worst is, hands down, foxy zombie. It breaks my heart every time I see a college girl think she can pull off a sexy zombie costume. There are enough Halloween parties, be more creative. It’s a close call for best costume — at least three come to mind — but I really liked this DIY zombie costume where the guy looked totally normal except his intestines were swinging around (don’t worry, it was a sock-stuffed pantyhose). He looked pretty gross and it was a cool execution.

Photos via  gomattolson

Check out the Zombie Pub Crawl website for more information about wristbands, music, block parties and general details about the pandemic sweeping the Twin Cities on Saturday night.