DNA Fusion’s Shock Value Marketing

I just came across an article titled “Some Scared by Design Firm’s ‘Box’ Ad” which leads with the following:

“EAST PROVIDENCE – A graphic design firm’s offbeat marketing campaign backfired when a few of the company’s clients mistook test-tube vials they received in the mail for a terrorist attack and called the police.”

New England hadn’t seen this much action since the Boston Bomb Scare of 2007.

Two things are notable here:

  1. While life has seemingly returned to normal post-September 11th, there are occasional reminders that “normal” may just be a relative term
  2. There is a subtle, yet crucial difference between “shocking” and “awe-inspiring.”

MSLK is always recommending clever, memorable tactics to help our clients stay top-of-mind with their customers. However, choosing humor or fun as an attention-getting tool should never come at the sacrifice of conveying actual messaging about what your company does.
In the article, the reporter describes how a graphic design firm’s offbeat marketing campaign backfired when recipients who were sent small tube-like bottles mistook the package for an attempted terrorist attack and called the police.

The mailing — as ill-conceived as it was — actually derived from the company’s president looking for a wacky way to publicize a new division within the company. It’d be fair to say that some people missed the point, which might be the only real crime committed. (There is also an accompanying website, too.)

That old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” be damned, we would have advised against this tactic for many reasons (cheesiness, among them). While MSLK prefers to take the high road when it comes to our marketing tactics, it is commendable that they ended-up getting more publicity than they intended.

Especially in an age where some people can’t even get arrested.