Round-up of the week’s odd marketing stories

  • Anti-Religion ad banned: Last month the South African Advertising Standards Authority banned an ad from a church for claiming miracles, this month UK’s ASA banned posters from the British Humanist Association asking people to check the “No Religion” box on census forms. The reason? They had the “potential to cause widespread and serious offence.”
  • 575-pound spokesman for Heart Attack Grill dies: ‘Heart Attack Grill is an unabashedly unhealthy restaurant – the menu consists of huge burgers, milkshakes and fries cooked in lard – and having such a big man as a spokesman was part of its tongue in cheek “glorification of obesity.”’
  • LA Clippers celebrate Black History month after Black History month ends: Not surprising really. As AdFreak points out “given [team owner Donald] Sterling’s standing as a poster boy for racial intolerance and bigotry, I’m amazed he missed it by only two days. By all accounts, this meathead is about as racially progressive as Archie Bunker. This is a guy who paid $2.73 million in 2009 to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed he discriminated against blacks and Hispanics when renting apartments in L.A.”
  • Del Monte unveils individually plastic wrapped …bananas. In case that wasn’t silly enough, the company claims the biodegradable wrappers are part of a “green initiative.”
  • Aussie schools sell booze for fundraising:  “The Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) has written to every school principal in the country asking them to reconsider the sale, use and promotion of alcohol products when raising money. In the open letter, chairman Dr John Herron said there were concerns students were being used as "couriers" between school and home for advertising material, forms and payments for alcohol as part of fundraising activities.”
  • Bank fails after taking “Jesus saves” literally

    JC savesRiverview Community Bank of Ostego, MN, whose founder said God told him that He “would take care of the bottom line,” was closed by the FDIC last Friday.

    Chuck Ripka, one of the bank’s founders, once told the Star Tribune that God spoke to him and said, "Chuck, if you pastor the bank, I’ll take care of the bottom line." Ripka and his staff would pray with customers in the bank’s Otsego branch and even at the drive-up window. (A story I once heard about not mixing money lenders and temples suddenly comes to mind.)

    Seems the Good Lord didn’t tip Mr. Ripka to the fact that home prices do not always head toward Heaven. The bank was an aggressive real estate lender and at one point had the fourth-highest concentration of real estate loans-to-capital of any community bank in the Minnesota. Riverview’s mistakes weren’t limited to bad loans it seems. Earlier this month it had reached an agreement with the Fed to cease paying dividends and correct violations of law spelled out in a May letter from the Fed. The order didn’t identify what laws were broken.

     

    (And speaking of banks in need of divine intercession, check out: Citigroup’s "Hail Mary Pass": How To Know Citigroup Is In Serious Trouble)

    UK ad standards agency to rule on God’s existence

    nogodThe UK’s Adertising Standards Authority has been asked to rule on a campaign by an atheist group featuring signs that read, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”  (Note: the action part of the message works just as well if you replace “no” with “a”.) The campaign from the British Humanist Association has been challenged by a group called Christian Voice on the grounds it  breaks rules concerning substantiation and truthfulness.

    The ASA’s code states “marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims”. The regulator said it would assess the complaint and decide whether to contact the advertiser.

    Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice, said: “There is plenty of evidence for God, from people’s personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world.  But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it.”

    Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: “I am sure that Stephen Green really does think there is a great deal of evidence for a God (though presumably only the one that he believes in), but I pity the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of God’s existence.”

    Once it hands down this ruling I want the ASA to get to the bottom of the whole Mac or Windows thing.

    Top 10 Marketing Blunders of 2008

    Yeah, there’s a lot more than 10 here. What can I say? It was a very good year for very bad things.

    (PS: If you liked this would you mind going here and voting for it on Digg?)

    GRAND PRIZE FOR SUSTAINED ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORT

    (tie)

    The John McCain Presidential Campaign

    • “Our economy, I think, is still — the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
    • Has no idea how many houses he (or his wife) owns.
    • Picks Sara Palin, the Broad to Nowhere who couldn’t find Russia or Africa on a map.
    • Campaign adviser and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina says Palin couldn’t run a major corporation.
    • Campaign adviser and former senator Phil Gramm says Americans are whiners about economic problems.
    • “Shutting down” his campaign to fix the bailout.
    • “Lipstick on a pig”
    • Egregious attack on Dungeons & Dragons that clearly cost him the election. (OK, maybe not so much the last one).

    GM

    Runners Up

    1. Ford features “Space Oddity” — a song about astronaut suicide — in new car campaign.
    2. Framingham State College  uses the word blah 137 times in a 312-word fundraising letter.
    3. Disney (multiple entries): Bans kids from DisneyWorld restaurant; Changes “It’s A Small World” to “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America; and Sells “High School Musical” panties for tween girls with the phrase “Dive In” on them.
    4. Woolworths (UK) launches Lolita brand of beds for young girl
    5. JetBlue lives up to Southwest’s parody ad by charging for pillows.
    6. Russia uses smiling kids in tourism ad for war zone
    7. Residents of Lesbos sue those other lesbians over brand name
    8. Motrin gets headache from viral moms video
    9. Butcher’s ads feature “Meat Products, Fresh Service” on naked woman
    10. Hershey asks if you’ve found Mr. Goodbar

    Special Jury Awards

    Co-Branding That Shouldn’t Have Been

    The Alpha & Omega of Over-reaching

    Product Failure

    The Penguins Of Irony “Oh NO You Din’t” Awards

    Previous years’ lists

    Penguin seal

    German churches hot about Chocolate Jesus

    chocolate-jesusGermany’s churches criticized a businessman for selling thousands of Jesus chocolates. Frank Oynhausen set up his “Sweet Lord” chocolate Jesus-making business saying he wanted to restore some traditional religious values to Christmas in Germany.

    So remember: Representations of The Savior in bread or wine form are OK, just don’t serve Him as dessert. However, is it OK to eat a cookie with a picture of Jesus on it? There’s a woman in the UK for whom this is not a theoretical question.

    You really owe it to yourself to checkout the website for The Original Chocolate GoldJesus®. Best line: “No Santa Claus, especially no chocolate Santa Claus, could ever substitute for Jesus.” I know someone who’s getting coal this in his stocking!

    Worth noting that chocolate crosses and such have long been sold in many places (even Wal Mart!). They seem to have started as a Hispanic tradition and spread from there.

    If God is everywhere, why can’t you serve Him a summons … or a beer?

    A judge in Nebraska has tossed a lawsuit filed by a state senator against the Almighty because You-Know-Who was never served legal papers.

    Just over a year ago Ernie Chambers, the longest serving — and maybe the most powerful — state senator in Nebraska history, sought a permanent injunction against God. He said the Almighty has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents in Omaha, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.’’

    In what may be the best legal argument I’ve ever encountered, Chambers said he has already found a flaw in the Judge’s reasoning: “The court itself acknowledges the existence of God. A consequence of that acknowledgment is a recognition of God’s omniscience. Therefore, God would have actual notice of that lawsuit. Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit.’’

    Elsewhere in The Realm of the Unknowable … G-D is making His/Her/Its/Their presence known at this year’s Great American Beer Festival:

    • The Lost Abbey brewery of San Marcos, Calif., has a full line of offerings, including one called Judgment Day. Even better, the company also makes a line of “non-denominational ales.”
    • There is also Schmaltz Brewing, makers of “He’Brew … The Chosen Beer.” Brands include Genesis Ale (“our first creation”), Messiah Bold (“the one you’ve been waiting for”), Jewbelation (“L’Chaim!”) and the seasonally released Rejewvenator.
    • Russian River Brewing Co. seems to offer everything you could want in a religion with brands called Damnation, Salvation, Perdition, Redemption, Sanctification, Deification and Benediction.
    • St. Arnold Brewing Co. has Divine Reserve and for believers of any stripe don’t do the whole alcohol thing they make St. Arnold Root Beer as well. (Also have the best name of any beer I’ve ever seen: Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower)

    New site lets you put God on your postage

    This site is the gateway to a whole new way of communicating what is deepest in your heart when you send a letter.  As personal as a nameplate on your desk, custom license plate, or insignia on your personal checks and credit cards, Holy Postage is a way of sharing your faith with those with whom you communicate by mail.

    As Richard Nixon would put it: Allow me to say this about that …

    • “As personal as a nameplate on your desk”? Paul Fussell, in his wonderful book Class, wrote that nameplates are for people who aren’t sure they should have desks.
    • What is deepest in my heart when I send a letter is generally, “Why can’t I do this by email?”
    • Didn’t Robin use the phrase “Holy Postage” once?

    We have structured the site such that you can get right to the specific area of particular interest to you.  We offer a variety of images for those of the Christian faith.  There is also beautiful artwork and imagery to inspire those across all faiths.

    The meaning of “all” here is much the same as when it is used by Sam The Eagle in Muppetvison 3D:

    Kermit the Frog: We will also see a rousing finale from Sam the Eagle. What’s it called, Sam?
    Sam the Eagle: It’s called “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America”.

    And indeed there is some imagery that is Jewish and some that is “Arabic” — which in this case means Christian but with a message printed in Arabic. All people depicted are the palest Caucasian.

    Note well that having The Alpha & The Omega, The Holy Undefinable Everything, The Dude, Big Guy (or Gal) and/or The Terrifying Void on your snail mail neither makes it more likely to arrive or even that your stamps will get to you in a timely manner. From the site’s FAQ:

    How long will it take to receive my stamps once I place my order?

    At this time, sheets of stamps are being custom printed by our printer once their minimums have been met. Your order will be shipped to you as soon as we receive it here at the offices of Holy Postage.  We will do everything possible to minimize the delay between the time you place your order and the time you receive it.  Please allow up to weeks following receipt of your order by us for your Holy Postage to arrive at your location.

    The absence of a specific number of weeks is the most wonderful typo I’ve seen in a while.

    Press release of the day: “Can Batman Teach Spiritual Truth”

    Shouldn’t questions have a question mark at the end of them?

    We too have a superhero that came to rescue us from evil and an eternity apart from Him. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And our Superhero shows us that life is only found by using our great gifts and power to serve others and rescue the desperate. We need to become Robin to His Batman. We are part of the team and He’s counting on us to respond.

    Lord, deliver us from your followers …

    Press release of the day: “Film Sets New Christian Comedy Trend”

    Back in the immoral age of comics, Christian comedians seemed out of place in any other venue besides a church.

    Some would argue that the only thing that goes on in a church is comedy, but that would be going for the cheap laugh and I would never do that.

    Or how about: “Three comedians walk into a church. Only one of them knows he’s a comedian.”

    Aren’t all comedians Immoral? (“deliberately violating accepted principles of right and wrong“)  The basic job definition is holding up a fun-house mirror to society & letting people consider ideas that they would never think of otherwise.

    It would be hard to come up with a bigger violation of currently accepted principles of right and wrong than humbly pursuing your faith, loving your God and your fellow man even over the pursuit of material gain. Thus Christianity can be pretty damn immoral. When the late Mr. Carlin went on about the seven dirty words that you can’t say on television he was making a point about the unpleasantness of swearing serving to distract us from the true obscenities of the world like poverty, war, bigotry. For me that’s a very Christian message.

    I actually have a bunch of God related material in my act. “Two phrases I hate: ‘person of faith’ and ‘faith-based organization.’ Please do not insult my belief that way. Cubs fans are a people of faith and support a faith-based organization. Me, I believe in God.” (The way things are going I’m going to have another patsy organization. GM? The Knicks? The Fed?)

    In case you were wondering what the hell: “Enter Ron Pearson, a Christian who is explicit about his faith yet is one of the top secular comics in the business. … Pearson’s latest project, Apostles of Comedy; The Movie, is a masterpiece that’s sure to set a new trend in both the Christian and secular comedy world. The film fuses 4 award – winning comedians that spotlights not only the quirks but explores their private lives as they share their journeys of love, faith, hope and forgiveness. You’ll see famed comedians Pearson, Anthony Griffith, Brad Stine and Jeff Allen as you’ve never seen them.”

    “As you’ve never seen them?” Well, that’s setting the bar pretty low. How about as you’ve never heard of them?

    And just FYI: Bob Newhart is GOD!

    Punk god illustration by George Coghill.

    Headline of the day: “God accused of selling cocaine near Tampa church”

    Speaking as a former headline writer — WHERE WAS THIS STORY WHEN I NEEDED IT?

    TAMPA, Fla. – Police say a man named God was arrested near a Tampa church for selling cocaine. Authorities began investigating God Lucky Howard in April, and he was arrested on Saturday. Police say he sold the cocaine to undercover detectives in his neighborhood. When officers searched his home, they reported finding another 22 grams of cocaine and a scale.

    Well, I think he wasn’t God and I know he wasn’t Lucky. He probably wasn’t Howard, either.

    Runner up for headline of the day: Sports bra saves US hiker in German Alp

    Berchtesgaden police officer Lorenz Rasp said that he helped lift 24-year-old Jessica Bruinsma of Colorado state to safety by helicopter on Thursday after she attracted the attention of lumberjacks by attaching her sports bra to a cable used to move timber down the mountain.

    QUICK, someone get the brand of that bra!

    Press release of the day: “Pope’s Cologne Provides Solace to Grieving Widow”

    Found at the ChristianNewsWire — where satirist’s prayers are answered.

    Shortly after Mother’s Day I received the following letter from a lady in Florida who had purchased The Pope’s Cologne for gifts. I felt strangely and deeply touched by it and debated about sharing its’ content.* I decided that I should. I think that you will see what I mean. This is the letter:

    Dear Dr. Hass,
    I needed to give you the feedback I got from “The Pope’s Cologne”. I ordered two dozen (24) to give out as gifts on Mothers Day. I came up with the idea after your interview at the “Sunday Morning” show, since my mother is a devoted Roman Catholic, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate gift for her and the rest of the mothers. We all had brunch that Sunday, 6 mothers in total, and I placed the colognes on each one of the mothers place seating. My mother was speechless and very grateful for the cologne and immediately opened it and placed a few drops on her forehead (as she was making the sign of the cross) and behind her wrist. She said; “it has a delicious and peaceful fragrance to it, I love it, very unique” and she proceeded to rub the small bottle as if it had magical powers. Through out the Brunch she was inhaling the aroma from her wrist and you could see in her eyes how much she enjoyed it.

    A few minutes before the brunch ended we got the bad news that a friend of my parents for over 50 years had just died. He was struggling with cancer but did not win the battle, he was 76 years old. The following morning we assisted the wake and as my mother hugged his widow she mentioned how pleasant her fragrance was. My mom proceeded to explain to her that it was a mother’s day gift given to her by one of her daughters. His widow expressed a feeling of peace and comfort as she was hugging my mom, and that it was the fragrance that made her feel this way.

    My mom tells me with tears in her eyes the widows comment and if she only knew the cologne was going to have this effect on her, she would have brought hers to passed it on to the widow. I remembered I had extra colognes in my car and I gave my mom one to give to her.

    What I experienced later will be a sight I will never forget!!! The widow used the cologne to “anoint” her husband EVERY 20 minutes. She would sprinkle it on his hands, his head, his forehead, and his neck. You could see in her eyes she had found a way of redemption through the cologne. Everyone was asking about the cologne and its origin. Everyone that came in to give her their condolences could not stop asking about the pleasant aroma they were experiencing. Everyone was quiet and in awe for hours. She also kept on rubbing the bottle as if it was some sort of amulet or charm.

    My mother called her this morning to see how she was doing. She said: “I am at peace and calm because every time I smell the cologne I remember his life not his death….Thank you for such an amazing gesture of God….!!!”

    I am sure you Never expected your cologne to touch so many people in soooooo many different ways.

    Thank you

    Alejandra Lamas

    www.thepopescologne.com

    At last we have an answer to What Would Jesus Spritz? $156 for a dozen 2 oz. bottles.

    *Why do I have my doubts as to the length of the debate over using this letter?)

    Press release of the day: “Text Messaging God”

    Tech support at any wireless phone company will tell you that the preferred set-up option to receive text messages is “Always On” rather than “When Needed.” Pastor Robert R. Cushman has found that our communication with God should be “Always On” too. In his new book, “What If You Pray? Experiencing the Reality of Prayer,” Pastor Cushman …

    Putting the G in OMG.

    Is God on Verizon or T-Mobile?

    Also begs the weighty theological question: Who does God turn to for tech support?

    God’s chosen racing team finishes 14th at Indy 500

    Kingdom Racing was founded last year “to win on the race track, create value for sponsors, and to change people’s lives through on-track ministry events.” Despite this divine mission, driver Davey Hamilton was afflicted with an “under steer in the car” (don’t ask me) which caused him to finish 14th at this year’s Indy 500. Chalk it up to free will I guess. In words that echoed either The Book of Job or Dale Earnhardt Sr., Hamilton said, “This is the toughest race I’ve ever been in.”

    As with all 14th place finishes, this was a team achievement.* The Kingdom Racing team is lead by Houston businessman George Del Canto who said, “The team’s vision is to deliver the word of God through Motor Sports. To reach this goal, we must field a championship caliber race team, as only front-runners earn credibility and deliver value to the sponsors’ investment.” (There has been considerable theological debate over whether credibility is earned through acts on the race track or by the grace of The Sponsor. The debate was eventually settled at the Wittenberg Raceway in what has come to be known as the Martin Luther 95.)

    Del Canto says the idea for Kingdom Racing came to him, “Three years ago, after studying Awaken the Leader Within, a book that challenged Christians to have a “blow your socks off” vision for the kingdom of God, I said I was going to build an Indy race team to deliver God’s word through motor sports.”

    We can only hope that — unlike Saul on the road to Damascus — none of Kingdom Racing’s drivers are blinded by this “blow your socks off” vision.

    *Or maybe, as some have long suspected, God really is a NASCAR fan.

    Car dealer allegedly apologizes for ad that insults all non-Christians

    Here’s the actual text of the radio spot for Kieffe and Sons Ford of Kern County, California.

    Did you know that there are people in this country who want prayer out of schools, “Under God” out of the Pledge, and “In God We Trust” to be taken off our money?

    But did you know that 86 percent of Americans say they believe in God? Now, since we all know that 86 out of every 100 of us are Christians who believe in God, we at Kieffe and Sons Ford wonder why we don’t just tell the other 14 percent to sit down and shut up.

    I guess maybe I just offended 14 percent of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case, then I say that’s tough; this is America, folks — it’s called free speech. And none of us at Kieffe and Sons Ford are afraid to speak up. Kieffe and Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond: if we don’t see you today, by the grace of God, we’ll be here tomorrow.

    OK, so now we know he’s bigoted, a bad businessman and can’t do research. Apparently every American who believes in God is a Christian. Good, pardon the phrase, Lord.

    The apology is every bit as stupid as the ad.

    “It’s just something that went by us,” said Rick Kieffe, who does not attend church but considers himself “a Christian spirit.” “We’re obviously sorry that it offends a given segment who identifies themselves as atheist.”

    Oh, Rick, if you’d only insulted the atheists you’d be far better off. I am sure all the churches in Kern County are grateful that Rick doesn’t actually attend any of them — although he might want to start.

    However this does give me enough of a thematic link to mention my latest post at The Ministry of Culture which explains why Julie Andrews + John Coltrane = God.