Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mark-eting 101

The 30th annual Forest City Road Races took place today in London.  This excellent event is both a first-rate event for serious runners and also a great fun day for casuals and families, all the while raising money for the Thames Valley Children's Centre.  I was proud to be a volunteer on the media and promotion committee one year and I would highly recommend that any running enthusiast check it out next year.  In hindsight, I probably should've written this ad before the actual day of the race, but…um….well, this might explain why I'm not on the promotion team anymore.  Dammit.

The FCRR is pretty great as it is, except it just needs one marketing push to really put it over the top.  You see, the event as it stands right now is very positive, so the only thing missing is a bit of…well, evil.  That's right, evil.  A wee bit of dramatic tension to make the goodness shine even brighter.  My idea is to introduce this evil in the form of a villainous mascot, akin to the Noid or the Hamburglar; a character who is anti-your product, but in this opposition makes your product look good since the character is such a rotter.

So essentially, my idea is to create the Forest City Road Racist.  It's exactly what it sounds like.  It's a guy who hates the FCRR because it's so inclusive and welcoming to all, which of course racists hate.  He'll be a white male (naturally) but I'm pretty flexible on the actual costume, since of course he needs a costume.  We could just go all-out and put the Road Racist in a white hood but that's not very original.  Maybe a more subtle way we could reveal his prejudice?  Like, he's always seen eating crackers, because he's a cracka-ass cracker?  We'd have to be very careful with the brand, since obviously no cracker factory would want to be seen as endorsing this clown.  Not even Allied Biscuit.

Here's how the campaign would work.  Fade in on the day of the FCRR, with everyone having a good time running/walking/wheeling, etc. down the course.  Cut to the Road Racist standing in the middle of the road, openly booing and perhaps throwing trash at the competitors.  The racers all look at each other, nod, and then all of them join forces to shove the Road Racist into a ditch, where he falls in mud and gets his humiliating comeuppance. 

The morals of the story….

1. Racism is bad!
2. Racists are jerks!
3. The Forest City Road Races promote togetherness, as represented by the community joining together to give the Road Racist his just desserts.
4. Don't stand on the track while the FCRR is going on.  (This is more of a subtle safety issue, as honestly, impeding the race is only about the seventh or eighth-most offensive thing the Road Racist is doing.)

Talk about a ground-breaking marketing idea.  The FCRR will draw attention world-wide for not just promoting physical fitness and a worthwhile charity, but also by directly combating bigotry in the form of this racist mascot avatar.  It's one thing to just speak out against racism; it's another to actually have a racist mascot that you'll be constantly abusing.  A shove in the mud is probably the least of what will happen to the Road Racist --- he'll get his ass kicked in any number of ways.  You could do a whole series of ads alone where he's bad-mouthing people of various nations or ethnicities, only to turn around and be confronted by a very large member of said group who then clocks the Road Racist upside the head.*

* = Actually, in one specific ad, he will literally be clocked upside the head.  Like, the Road Racist is trashing Swiss people, when he turns around to see someone from Switzerland.  The Swiss man checks his watch, says "It's ass-kicking o'clock," and then beats the Racist down with some Clock King-esque watch-themed wooden cane.  Then the Swiss guy turns to the camera and says, "There's no TIME for racism at the Forest City Road Races.  Everyone is welcome!"  In a perfect world, this role would be played by Roger Federer.  For some reason his agent hasn't returned my call yet.

Now, some might ask why we'd have to push buttons and specifically make the mascot an outright Racist.  Like, why not just call him the Road Rascal and make him a general nuisance, rather than bringing the grim spectre of prejudice into what's supposed to be a fun and positive day?  To this I say, hey, what are you, trying to DEFEND racism?  Maybe YOU'RE the real racist, Straw Man I'm Constructing For The Purposes Of This Fake Argument!  Get him, everyone!

It could be argued that, while I'm speaking out against racism, the fact that the Road Racist will take endless physical abuse means that I'm promoting violence.  And, the fact that I just pretend-attacked even a pretend straw man means I'm prone to violence and maybe clinically insane.  Well, for one, I'm not insane.  Eight out of the 13 doctors cleared me.  Second of all, what are you, trying to DEFEND racism?  Maybe YOU'RE the violent one!  Get him, everyone!….ahem, wait, you may have a point.  Tell you what, the year after we introduce the Road Racist, we'll introduce another villain mascot, the Road Rageist.  His gimmick is that he'll get violently angry at the drop of a hat.  He and the Road Racist team up to ruin the FCRR, but they end up arguing and fighting amongst each other, thus adding the message that being violent and racist never works out.

Geez, I don't know why I wasn't asked back to that media and promotion committee.

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