It was on television, for goodness’ sake—strictly “play-like” any way you slice it. Not a single turkey lost its life; nay, not even a feather was disturbed in the WKRP in Cincinnati sit-com episode that aired almost 30 years ago.
You remember it—or hearing about it. They dropped live turkeys from a helicopter in a Thanksgiving promotion.
The stumbling/bumbling manager of the radio station, Arthur Carlson, was bombarded by an enraged public. “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly,” he responded….
As it turned out, this was the #1-ranked episode of the popular TV show’s five-year run. What isn’t so funny is the real event on which it was loosely based.
Yep, back in the 1940’s, they started a “Turkey Trot Festival” in Yellville, Arkansas. It featured a turkey-calling contest, a turkey target shoot, a Miss Drumsticks Pageant, and—believe it or not—a live turkey release from the roof of the courthouse!
Then, for several years, they dropped gobblers from a low-flying airplane (hopefully a crop-duster). But in 1989, the community was put in a bad light when the National Enquirer splashed a photo of the “air drop” across the land. (Score a rare “A+” for the Enquirer.) Forthwith, the “turkey drop” was, uh, dropped….
Another goofy PR stunt went awry, for real, when defunct Braniff International Airlines bragged: “We’re going to be on time.” They back-patted themselves for “having the guts to put clocks in the cabins.”
Among their slick claims was “good for a fast buck,” since they handed out silver tokens to passengers if they deplaned late. (Tokens were redeemable for free future flights.)
The PR campaign was dismantled on May 3, 1968, when a Braniff Electra II, en route from Houston to Dallas, crashed over Dawson, near Corsicana, killing all 85 persons on board. Suddenly, being on time was no longer ballyhooed, and the clocks were removed from the fleet’s cabins….
Well, the Grand Prairie AirHogs, a new entry in the world of professional minor league baseball, aren’t in the same league with Braniff when it comes to PR blunders, but they’ve dug mighty deep for a promotion that is over the top.
At their June 3 game, they’re giving away a free funeral. That’s right, some lucky stiff at the game on “All Hogs Go to Heaven” night will win a $10,000 funeral with all the trimmings.
Idle thought: Some fan’ll turn a profit while someone else turns the spade. Prediction: More heads are turning than turnstiles….
The “winner” gets to choose the color of his (her) casket, and all related funeral expenses, including burial plot and headstone, will be paid. (The expiration date for claiming the prize is the same as the winner’s expiration date.)
Though the game is still a few days away, fans are requested to “wear black.” (Nothing has been said, yet, if fans who opt to watch the game from the outfield swimming pool should wear black suits.)
When the PA guy screams, “Say ‘bye-bye’ to that one,” fans won’t know whether he’s referring to the contest winner or the home run hitter. Fans also are advised that there will be funeral-related contests during the game, including pallbearer races and “MadLibs” eulogy deliveries….
Excuse me, but is this not trivializing death?
Somehow, one would think cooler heads would have prevailed. Instead, bobble heads did; there is egg on many faces.
Oh, in some respects the promotion already is a smashing success. We know who the AirHogs are, and we have a snoutful of teases about their promotions. One of them is a “Jessica Simpson Night.”…
In the early years of my career, the college president to whom I reported made it clear to me that my primary responsibility was to keep the school “in the news and off the front page.” Parameters were established.
Most of the time, it worked. We never dropped turkeys or had hearses hot-rodding across parking lots. Anyone suggesting such in staff meetings would have been hooted out of the room.
Meanwhile, I’m really glad that minor league baseball is back, and I trust that the Grand Prairie AirHogs will give a hoot. Will they win the pennant? I dunno. Maybe when pigs fly….
Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 817-447-3872. His website: www.speakerdoc.com