Lemons into lemonade


Mary Smith

Published on
September 14, 2009

With thousands of bars being reviewed by thousands of bloggers, an over abundance of entertainment websites, free weeklies and the old fashioned newspapers (in a town that still supports not one, but two!), how does a Chicago bar separate itself from the pack?

Not with a million dollar marketing campaign, but with $100 and a little bad luck turned good.

Last week, a “classic” issue of Playboy was stolen off the men’s bathroom wall from a newish bar called the 50/Fifty in Chicago’s trendy Ukrainian Village.  The theft generated an enormous amount of press, and ultimately the magazine was returned (for a $100 reward).

The story was all over town (all over the world, really).  On the radio, in the paper, on the web, on Twitter, in more than one language even

A classic bit of guerilla marketing, executed just about perfectly.  Everyone in the Chicagoland area that is old enough to read now knows about the Fifty/50.  They also got a very nice glimpse at the personality of the establishment – it’s a place that cares deeply about vintage Playboy.  It’s racy, but still classy.  They also managed to mention, via a well crafted press release about the theft, that they have an outdoor patio, a fantastic beer selection, and award winning burgers.  

My suggestion for the next step - get a team of servers commenting on every news story out there – “We love the 50/Fifty!  Best salmon in town!  Hope they get their Playboy back.”  And voila!  Instant cred, a fun marketing campaign that will capture exactly the audience you want, and all it cost was a $100 and some time. 

Have you had a seemingly bad problem turn into a great opportunity to market your company or your products?  Let us know how it worked out for you, and what you learned!

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