Here’s what happened, as it does about 30 times a day. I got an email from a public relations firm asking if our newspaper would please consider helping promote an upcoming event. Whether they’re non-profits, community organizations, or the local library, we’re often asked if we will publish information to help drive attendance at events. (And here I was thinking nobody reads newspapers anymore.)
They say there’s nothing wrong with negative press, but can’t we at least spend a little more time with our word choice?
Here’s the headline: “Puppies for Breakfast returns to Market Square Park on April 11.”
Puppies for Breakfast? Really? Is there going to be a vegan option? Do they come with a side of grits? And what, exactly, are we serving the rest of the day? Kittens for Lunch? Goldfish Sushi for Dinner?
Puppies for Breakfast. Yes, that’s the name of the event.
Now, just to prove the negative-press theory is correct, I’m going to tell you more about this event, which means I’m going to quote the first paragraph.
“On April 11, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Houston Downtown Management District and Neue Creative present the 10th annual Puppies for Breakfast, a unique outdoor festival that brings everything dog-centric to Market Square Park in Downtown Houston.”
Of course, that drives home a deeper question: This thing has been named “Puppies for Breakfast” for a decade now?
“The pet-friendly event features more than 60 vendors and artists, the world’s largest dog piñata, a dog costume contest… plus food trucks, beer and mimosas from Niko Niko’s.”
We’re not going to ask any questions about the food trucks, but I’m interested in this dog piñata, hailed as the largest in the world (who arbitrates this claim?). So we’re having Puppies for Breakfast, and then we’re going to pulverize a gigantic, paper dog with a stick? And this is pet-friendly?
I won’t beat up on these people too much more (pun intended), because their website says they’re encouraging $5 donations at the gate to help support local dog rescues, which seems somewhat vague considering how many of them there are.
Regardless, the promotional email piece I received from this group probably pales to some of the worst in this age of non-stop advertising. And surely there are folks like my wife and I who watch a show on TV, see a horrible commercial (think Peloton), and wonder just who in the world gets paid millions of dollars to create these things.
So in the spirit of not singling out the folks putting Puppies on a Platter, here’s a quick list of some of the worst marketing slogans, printed solely for your entertainment.
Anyone remember the Electrolux vacuum cleaner? If not, their slogan was unforgettable: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”
Amazingly, this company is still in business and, today, they’ve sharpened their pitch to “There’s clean, then there’s Electrolux clean.” OK, so they don’t admit they’re terrible anymore. Now they’ve just taken an old play on words and made it their own. And somebody got paid millions to do that work.
One of my favorite slogans came from the delectable Hot Pockets brand of processed cheese-stuffed cardboard. No kidding, they had a slogan that said, “Every bite is a different temperature.”
That’s just truth in advertising. Good on them.
KFC tested a real doozy: “Today tastes so good.” I guess it tastes better than yesterday, assuming they forgot the Original Recipe yesterday.
In the theme of fast food, McDonald’s once tried to get cute when they came up with a campaign of billboards picturing a chocolate milkshake. The text? “Painfully Thick.” I’m assuming those billboards came down right about the same time as that documentary “Supersize Me.”
There’s an actual airline called Uzbekistan Airways, which is not for the faint of heart. At one point, they deployed a two-word marketing slogan: “Good Luck.” Imagine reading that boarding a Boeing 737.
No one can forget the M&M’s campaign that stuck around way too long. “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” Liar, liar, pants on fire.
A chain of gas stations called AMPM confused all their potential customers when they tried to pitch all the delicious candy and chips in their stores. “Imagine more snacks than you can imagine.” And imagine ever understanding what they were imagining when they imagined that marketing imagination.
Speaking of confusing, there once was a beer called Coopers. Actually, it’s still around and brewed in Australia. Here’s what their magazine advertisements said: “The beer that beer would drink.” Any chance the marketing team was drunk?
One of my favorites for creativity came from the Chicago Homicide Division, though I can’t verify that they were the first to use the phrase. However, they did print up coffee cups that said, “Our day starts when yours ends.” Now that’s worth the price of a cup of coffee.
And the greatest marketing slogan I could find, and the one that must end this conversation, came from an alcoholic beverage called Chambord, which I have never tasted and likely never will. Want to know how devoted their marketers were to their craft? They literally had a campaign that said, “Chambord. Because No Reason.”
Want to know what I think? I’m betting the folks over at Coopers Brewery finished up their work, took a cab to the Chambord lab, had a few bottles, and called it a day.
Let’s just hope they didn’t fight off their next morning hangover with some Puppies for Breakfast.