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When Witty Advertising Works

Publisher Scott Shriber discusses how humor, irony and creativity can pack a powerful punch.

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I’m sure before you ever started to read this column that you noticed
the photo first. From time to time during my travels, I see
something that, at first glance, is humorous or ironic. If it stays with
me long enough, I get out the old pen and jot it down for everyone’s
enjoyment or learning. In this case, it’s both. Humor is an important
part of life and many times offers valuable lessons.

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On the surface, this picture is rather straightforward. We have a
promotional truck parked in a prominent location with an inflatable
advertising item in the back. No big deal. On closer inspection, you see
that it’s a Chick-Fil-A truck with a humorous inflatable cow holding a
sign that reads, “Eat Mor Chikin.”

Again, not such a big deal…until you consider whose parking lot the
giant cow truck is parked in. Yep, it’s parked in the Fleming’s Prime
Steakhouse and Wine Bar lot – not just any steakhouse but one of
the premier national restaurants in the U.S. Now that’s a big dose of
irony!

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Don’t think that this is just a coincidence! The billboard-like bovine
is parked on this highly-trafficked spot at least five days a week
during lunch hour. Fleming’s is not open for lunch, so I’m sure the two
managers got together and worked out a deal. The Chick-Fil-A location is
just a few hundred yards away and doesn’t have the premium traffic view
that Fleming’s has.

What’s the lesson here? I give the Chick-Fil-A manager an A+ for
resourcefulness and creativity. His restaurant is out of view, so he
found a way to get his creative advertising in front of the maximum
number of potential customers. This is something we all strive to do in
business every day. Fleming’s manager gets a questionable grade in
judgment. The Chick-Fil-A advertising might be providing some side
revenue for Fleming’s during off-hours, but will everyone react to this
humor the same way I did? People interpret things very differently. Some
might take the message to heart!

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In our attempts to be creative or clever, we need to be sure that our
message is safe for all who may consume it. Business policies are the
same in that respect. Be sure that the public will process your message
or policy in the spirit you planned. It can be tricky!

I’ve got to go! All this food talk has made me hungry for some tofu.

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