I was recently reading a very interesting article on marketing stunts, and was both intrigued and impressed by the creativity that these companies showed in finding ways to expose their brand to the consumer marketplace that wouldn’t easily be forgotten. See if you remember any of these stunts.

1996 ~ Taco Bell purchased ad space in the New York Times to announce that they had purchased The Liberty Bell, and would be renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. The ad copy explained that the company was taking steps to assist the country in reducing debt, and that they hoped other corporations would follow suit. It was all an April Fools joke, but it generated enormous marketing exposure for Taco Bell in a unique and memorable way.

2007 ~ Marvel Comics killed Captain America. Comic Books? Seriously? Yes, seriously! Marvel Comics is a publishing giant, and an entertainment industry mogul (purchased in recent years by Disney) and in 2007 they killed one of their most iconic characters. Nobody in the industry believed that they would leave the character dead, but even in the face of skepticism and doubt, their marketing stunt captured the attention of news outlets around the world, garnering the company coverage and attention in the New York Times, on CNN and all over the internet (15 years earlier DC Comics had similar success with the very public killing of Superman.)

1999 ~ Amongst the dozen plus examples that I was reading about, this one was far and away my favorite. Half.com, a retail website, paid a town named Halfway (in Oregon) to change its name to Half.com for a year. In return the town would receive a compensation package. The details of the package aren’t what makes this so great. What makes it great is that in its ridiculousness, the media picked up on the marketing scheme and got it such attention that five months after Half.com’s IPO the dotcom monster Ebay purchased it for three hundred million dollars.

What stands out for me when I reflect on these and other marketing stunts (and not all of them were successful) is the creative vision that their brands showed in pursuing the shock marketing that lead to these memorable stunts. Whether they capture our imagination through humor, playing on our emotional connections or leveraging pop culture and business trends to attempt the seemingly foolish, all of the exercises reflect a certain brazen confidence in both the product they are selling and the vehicle they have chosen to deliver it. They’re not looking for an opportunity to get some exposure….they’re looking for a chance to win “BIG.”

Reflecting on these stunts reminded me of an iCAT contractor who took a very bold step to market his company; he flooded his house!

Disaster Recovery Services were the first documented contractor to execute this incredible marketing stunt. Watching that commercial (did you click the link?) there is no arguing that Reggie Rooks Jr. believed in his company and the quality of the service they deliver! How effective was the stunt? Effective enough that I’ve remembered it from the very second that he mentioned it to me, and shared the story with dozens of other contractors. When I talk to them about marketing I often challenge them to think about a “BIG” win that will leave their competitors wondering how they’ll ever be able to follow that act. Reggie’s bold move is the example I use when I talk about doing something that will leave an indelible impression on everyone exposed to it.

Does your company have a “BIG” win in its future?


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