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ESPN Effort Tells Rocky Mountain Lie

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NEW YORK Buttermilk Mountain is alive—and it eats people!

That's the central message of an integrated campaign from The Martin Agency for ESPN's Winter X Games 12 in Aspen, Colo., which start today.

Martin's mission: Build online credibility that the mountain had, in fact, developed a taste for human flesh.

Five fake Web sites, such as www.buttermilkisalive.com, tout the strange goings on at the mountain. Martin staffers fanned out to different sports blogs in an effort to get people talking about "strange happenings" at Buttermilk.

"We created 20 different characters with back stories. Those people went on real blogs, such as transworld.com and goto11.com, and made posts suggesting something weird is happening in Aspen," said Dave Gibson senior copywriter at Martin in Richmond, Va.

Three fake "Russian newscasts" perpetuate the myth of mountain.

There is also a real-life element with Jim Vale, a character seen in some of the viral videos, visiting the X Games to interact with folks there.

In addition to the viral elements, two 30-second spots are running on ESPN, and four print ads are in ESPN: the Magazine. In "Snowmobile," a large mountain in vaguely human form roars as snowmobile riders perform stunts and tricks.

"We wanted to focus on what makes our event special," said Robert Zajac, associate director, ESPN, New York. "The X Games is one of the properties that has the most freedom to be more creative and be more interesting."