SACRE BLEUE! PROMOTION RUN AMOK

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Many ad traditionalists hold fast to the notion that experiential marketing is just another word for promotions — or even worse — sampling. The following description of a promotional campaign in France is so good, I'll let the New York Times do the writing:

It seemed like a good idea at the time, one for the annals of great publicity gimmicks. An ambitious Internet marketing company would sponsor a double-decker London bus to drive around central Paris, throwing cash from the windows in a promotional stunt.

But it didn’t quite work out as planned. Minutes before the event was to have started late Saturday morning, the police decided they did not like the look of the hard-jostling crowd of around 7,000 people that had formed near the Eiffel Tower in search of instant riches, and they ordered the event stopped before even a single centime had been handed out. Some in the crowd then ran amok.

In the ensuing mayhem, about a dozen people were arrested, store windows were broken, a car was overturned and at least one man was beaten by thugs. The riot police were called in to restore order.

Instead of the middle-class Parisians the organizers had hoped for, witnesses said the crowd, overwhelmingly young, male and poor, appeared to be made up mostly of residents of the tough suburbs that ring the French capital, as well as poor students and homeless men.

I'm still laughing a bit. And then comes this piece of francophone fuckery:

“Just because they do this sort of thing in the United States, that’s not a reason to do it in France,” the budget minister, Eric Woerth, said on Radio J, speaking of the marketing ploy. “It borders on the ludicrous.”

Yes. It is. But I have never heard of an American company give away money like this:

Mailorama.fr, the Web marketing company that planned the event, initially wanted its “Bus of Fortune” to make several stops around the city, distributing a total of 5,000 envelopes, each containing €5 to €500 — $7.50 to $750. The locations were to be communicated via promotional “buzz” on the Web.

Which goes to show that the homeless in Paris have wi-fi.

The marketing plan may have been a flop, but the uproar brought the company notoriety beyond its wildest dreams. Now it can hope that there really is no such thing as bad publicity.

What do you think? What's the experience?

4 comments

  1. “…but the uproar brought the company notoriety beyond its wildest dreams. Now it can hope that there really is no such thing as bad publicity.”
    Bad PR is PR, we all know. But this type of press gives them about 14 more minutes of fame before it all goes away.
    While they got a ton of press, they most likely will have no longevity.
    Bad experience.

  2. I guess riots and crushed hopes count as an experience.

  3. shanecobain · · Reply

    Strong experience! Assuming that the company was trying to gain awareness- it doesn’t necessarily matter what people attending thought. It was a PR ploy that will garner awareness for the consumers that would use the internet company services in the future. Many of these may be put off by the failure and debacle, but many would appreciate the creativity and approach. They have thus moved the needle for themselves by gaining awareness and driving appeal. (None of which they had before)

  4. Scott Geisler · · Reply

    Now that several months have passed, how has business performance changed? That’s the question, isn’t it?

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