Hot on the heels of that disastrous promotional stunt in Boston, in which blinking electronic packages – planted to promote a cartoon series – stirred fears of terrorist bombs, come two more ‘what were they thinking’ moments in marketing.
Still in Boston, Cadbury Schweppes got into hot water when it sent people on a treasure hunt, looking for a buried coin that was worth $1.5 million to the finder. What raised eyebrows in this instance was the location of the treasure hunt: the coin was buried in Boston’s 350-year-old Granary Burying Ground, resting place of John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and other famous U.S. citizens.
According to a contrite Cadbury spokesperson, the historic cemetery “was not an appropriate place to bury a coin. It was poor judgment and we have apologized to the authorities. No damage was done to the graves.”
Just before that, the folks at KFC caused a holy ruckus with the launch of their new Fish Snacker sandwich, which the company says is ideal for “American Catholics who want to observe Lenten season traditions” while leading busy lifestyles. Gregg Dedrick, the President of KFC, went straight to the top in searching for a product endorsement.
“The company has turned to Pope Benedict XVI, beseeching him to bestow his Papal blessing for this innovative new menu item,” KFC said in a press release. “Vatican officials confirmed they received KFC's request, and the company is hopeful to get the Pope's blessing this Lenten season.”
If this was a joke, it didn’t ring true and the stunt gave heartburn to many American Catholics. As far as I can tell, the company still hasn’t issued an apology.
Still with KFC, I wonder if the company was trying to appeal to a higher power with another promo stunt, the recent unveiling of what the company says is the “world’s first brand visible from space" (image below).
Yes, the Colonel’s face can now be seen by extraterrestrials, hungry perhaps for some unidentified frying objects. The logo covers an area of 87,500 square feet in the Nevada desert, also known as the UFO capital of the world. (The logo is much larger than a 75 X 110 foot replica of a Maxim magazine cover that was assembled last year, also in Nevada.)
And then, in the midst of all these marketing public relations ‘wins’, KFC gets stuck with this stinker of a video clip on You-Tube, exposing a rat infestation at a KFC/Taco Bell in New York. Which goes to show that there is indeed such a thing as 'bad publicity'.