Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Stupid Publicity Stunts

A few days ago, local news reported on a publicity stunt conducted by a Chicago-area radio or TV station—I’m not sure which it was—in which they dropped a piece-of-crap car 500 feet onto a grid. Whoever “owned” the square on the grid where the car landed became the instant winner of a new Hummer.

Does anyone else see the problems inherent in this deeply flawed concept? What problems, you say? Well, let’s start with the obvious. First, how difficult can it be to hit a stationary target at 500 feet from a hovering helicopter? Seems like it’s too easy to rig the outcome, to me. Wouldn’t it have been fairer to make the drop, from 35,000 feet, from the underbelly of a 747 cargo plane (sans bombsight) as it passes over the city? You could declare whomever the car landed on the winner, and the whole event would have more of a random flavor to it.

A less obvious problem—albeit a more egregious one—concerns the prize that was awarded. A Hummer? Leave it to the media in a city that prides itself on its “green” initiatives to come up with that one. I guess because Hummers aren’t selling well due to high gas prices, GM dealers clear out showrooms by offering bargain-basement prices for Hummers to various media outlets, who then give them away to participants in stupid publicity stunts.

It just goes to show you how misguided and shortsighted American society really is, how egocentric, how selfish, how gluttonous our people are. We behave as if it’s our birthright to overproduce, overconsume, and overspend, and we live in a permanent state of denial while our arrogant greed drives most animal species to the brink of extinction.

The Great American Dream is a global nightmare, people. We’ve got our priorities all wrong and, until we get them right, we’ll continue to be the primary destroyers of the planet we live on. Instead of leading the way in forging solutions to critical national and global issues, U.S. business and political leaders bumble along in hopes that business as usual will save the day, and that all of the problems will just go away if only we ignore them a little while longer.

Has our thinking become so stilted and our vision so narrow that we can’t embrace the idea of multiple winners? Must there always be but one winner and many losers? Whatever happened to win/win?

If the Chicago-area broadcast medium mentioned at the beginning of this rant had its collective head on straight, it would have dropped the Hummer instead of the clunker, then used the combined weight of both vehicles to determine how many Trek bicycles (of equal combined weight) could be given away as prizes.

There would literally be several hundreds of bicycle winners, hundreds of thousands in the Chicago area benefiting from less traffic congestion and decreased energy consumption, millions benefiting from fewer local greenhouse gas emissions, and billions upon billions of life forms around the planet able to breathe a little easier—perhaps even enjoy a few seconds or a few minutes of extended life expectancy—because of this visionary environmental approach to media publicity.

If you want the biggest bang for your publicity buck, you’ve got to impact as many lives as possible, not just one. Think win/win/win/win!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.