Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Marketing 101

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if you are reading this blog, you are probably, like myself, a regular viewer of The Daily Show.

I wasn't on board for the early days of the show, but the broadcast has become a staple of my day, much like 7 cups of coffee, a 3/4 mile swim and the grousing about my neighbor's "god damn pit bulls."

I don't swallow everything Jon Stewart puts out there.

I love how he skewers the media and cherry picks sound bites to point out the biblical hypocrisy of the increasingly extremist right wing nutters. I don't know how any educated person can align themselves with the likes of Palin, Huckabee or Santorum.

On the other hand, I find him ceaselessly naive about the dangers of Islamism, Sharia-creep and the erosion of freedom of speech on American soil.

Similarly, I don't see how any educated person, particularly my friends on the left end of the political spectrum, cannot see the ugly, fascist, oppressive narrative that is reshaping the Middle East, Europe and California as we speak.

Last week a student at Berkeley penned a piece on why she left Islam. The student newspaper would not publish the article for fear that it might provoke violence. If I may paraphrase Groucho Marx:

I wouldn't want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member. Or threaten to kill me for not renewing my membership.

Politics aside, I think we can all agree that Jon Stewart's regular roasting of Arby's is the comedy that reaches across both sides of the aisle. Who doesn't not like these bits?

I like to speculate on the birth of this on-going effort to take down America's Number One Purveyor of Fine Grey Meats.

I'm picturing a group of Daily Show writers holed up in their office for 10 smelly hours of writing, rewriting and addressing network notes. I see one of the horse-tired writers ordering out for food. And I'm imagining bags of sloppy Arby's sandwiches, soggy french fries and wet cole slaw strewn about the writer's table. Then I'm fast forwarding another three hours or so, just as they are about to call a wrap on a long day, and suddenly there's grumbling. The kind of intestinal noise that foreshadows nothing good.

The joking, the bantering, the witty back and forth have all been replaced with the hurling, the porcelain praying and the violent hurling.

The next day, one of the writers calls the manager at the local Arby's, in a futile effort to get a refund.

In a thick accent, the foreign-born manager explains,

"So you all threw up? In my country that's like getting two meals for the price of one."

Others, impossibly more cynical than me, have suggested that the entire thing is nothing more than cleverly placed paid advertising. That the genii at Arby's decided to exploit rather than deny the negative perceptions people have of their brand. That they are doing a complete Ju-Jitsu. And gave the writer's carte blanche and instructed them to "rip us a new one."

The increased sales numbers seem to suggest that this surreptitious plan is working.

If so, we may be moving into what I think could be the golden age of advertising. With companies hiring bitter copywriters to roll up their sleeves, bend at the knees and shit all over their 100% wool, Italian-designed corporate suits.

Are you catching all this Hewlett Packard?
Time Warner Cable?

Which one of you forward thinking companies wants a big old Stanley Steamer?

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