Bob Ross says there are no mistakes, just happy little accidents. That’s true to an extent in marketing, too. Even when a campaign doesn’t work, you can learn from it, adapt, and try a new approach. At the same time, you can’t fully control how people interact with your business and marketing efforts. There’s always an element of surprise that can bring any business into the spotlight. Today’s stories show how standard print materials, specifically table tents and posters, can go viral through creative use. In both cases, neither business planned it.
Whataburger Table Tents Make News. . .as Crime Scene Markers
Table tents are the unsung heroes of restaurants and small cafes, promoting dinner specials and seasonal refreshments to the masses. For the popular fast food restaurant Whataburger, numbered table tents help employees track orders. In the southern United States, collecting these tents is a tradition for locals. Patrons collect and trade them to get numbers with significance to them. You can find Whataburger table tents on car dashboards, in graduation photos, and for sale on eBay.
But when a photo went viral showing the Houston police using Whataburger table tents as evidence markers, the public had questions.
Was Whataburger sponsoring the police? Were the police advertising Whataburger? The answer, as it turns out, wasn’t so much a partnership as a necessity. At a crime scene, the standard procedure is for police to wait for the forensic team to set up evidence markers. However, conditions like inclement weather create exceptions. In these cases, placeholder markers must be set up as soon as possible.
Shortly after the photo went viral, the police department released a memo telling officers to stop using Whataburger table tents.
What a shame.
At least Whataburger enjoyed some free news publicity out of it.
College Student & Friend Prank McDonald’s with Fake Poster. . .for Over 8 Weeks
Posters and prints are a great way to advertise a huge sale or give band fans a souvenir. Depending on the size you need, there are endless opportunities to promote products, services, and limited time offers.
For one college student and his friend, a large poster was also a great way to have some fun with their local McDonald’s.
Jevh Maravilla and Christian Toledo noticed a lack of Asian representation in McDonald’s ads and realized they could fix it. The duo created a large poster that showed them walking while enjoying fries and a burger. For authenticity, they touched the poster up with colorful, circular graphics before hanging it up on a blank wall at the McDonald’s.
They never thought it would stay up for long.
51 Days Later. . .
After staying up for over 50 days, Maravilla shared the poster on Twitter. Soon after, the prank went viral and landed the students on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where they received $25k each from McDonald’s and were invited to be part of a future marketing campaign.