*Brand Partner Content*
There once was a small restaurant chain who wanted to make a commercial to advertise their new meal delivery service. This sounds very silly now, but this was a time long before Bite Squad, Doordash and Grubhub, and if you wanted anything delivered to you other than Asian food or pizza, you were largely out of luck.
Based in the Midwest, their ad strategy up to this point had been fairly conservative. But then they were pitched an idea about nudists still wanting the restaurant’s food, and needing a delivery service to make it possible. Surprisingly, the small restaurant chain bit.
They shot the entire commercial, featuring two actors who were actually in swimwear, but covered their swimsuits with, for example, hair extensions and props. The costumer did it so well that, in fact, the actors appeared scandalously naked while delivering their upbeat lines about this restaurant’s exciting new delivery service, perfect for their carefree, nudist lifestyle. The commercial was successfully edited and proudly submitted to a variety of networks, all of which refused to air it.
The actors, it seemed, appeared just a little too realistically naked for anyone’s comfort, and even though all of the regional stations were assured the nudity was an illusion. And right when the ad agency was about to apologize for wasting easily tens of thousands of dollars on this ill-conceived campaign, a movie-quality miracle happened.
The commercial generated so much buzz at the stations, it became a news story. Instead of having to buy air time, the networks aired it for free. Everyone, and I mean everyone throughout Minnesota, and undoubtedly parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas saw it. It was on the 6:00 news…the whole spot…the full Monty, as it were. The sheepish actors got calls asking why on earth they had done such a thing. Don’t worry…they’re fine, and still got paid for their…exposure. Instead of this decision costing the company a fortune, with free air time, they had saved a bundle. There’s a go big or go home story there, for sure. But there’s also another point there. Good marketing is great. But free marketing is better.
Kris Lindahl, an up and coming real estate celebrity, has been a household name in the Twin Cities for a few years now, but grabbed national headlines when he put up one of his characteristic billboards far, far outside his growing brokerage’s market: Philadelphia. The Minnesota Vikings were about to face off against the Eagles for the NFC Championship, and he bought a large billboard right outside the Eagles’ stadium. It proudly proclaimed “Purple > Green,” referring to the Vikings’ purple and white color scheme, and featured Kris Lindahl’s iconic, arms-wide pose.
Philadelphians were probably bewildered by the taunt, but the Minnesotans who had made the journey couldn’t tweet about it fast enough, and the image got tens of thousands of views and comments. Every newspaper, radio station in Minnesota went nuts to cover it, and it even got picked up nationally. Billboards aren’t cheap, but the coverage it bought was worth more than basically every million dollar Super Bowl ad ever. “I figured Minnesotans would think it was funny, and it would help me stand out,” Lindahl explains. He was right. People actually are still talking about how a Minnesotan realtor was bold enough to troll the Eagles on their turf.
Pulling stunts like shooting a naked (or naked-like) commercial or putting up a “spite billboard” aren’t for the faint of heart. But it tends to pay off big. Kris Lindahl’s brokerage now spans multiple states, and ended up having the best year yet, surpassing $1 billion in sales. And that little restaurant chain? It’s called Green Mill, and even in this era of COVID, it’s still kicking and churning out burgers and pizza, although its commercials haven’t featured any more implied nudity of late. The slogan of the notorious commercial was “Green Mill Delivers it All.” And for marketers around the world, it certainly did.