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)