. The Transom .

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bitten by the two-headed snake

There is a saying in our agency about being 'bitten by the two-headed snake.' It's an entertaining story and an example of how our business sometimes works.

Several years ago we represented ConAgra. During one particularly bad summer in St. Louis, the largest local food bank announced that it was nearly out of food and as a result, hundreds of homeless people and those dependent on the food bank would be left to fend for themselves. We told ConAgra about the situation and they decided to deliver three 52' trailers full of food to the food bank. This represented hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food the company was donating - a very worthy media story.

We contacted all the local media and let them know when the drop would be made. We had a lead executive come in from Omaha for a speech. We directed camera crews where to go for the best shots of the food being delivered, and had the mayor lined up to talk about the food crisis in the city. It was beautiful. Until the day of the drop...

Our press conference was scheduled for 11:00am. We had confirmations from every TV station, every paper and radio station that they would attend to cover the event. At 9:00am that morning, the St. Louis Zoo announced that it had found a live two-headed snake and would be showing it off at, you guessed it, 11:00am. And because the media think that a freak of nature is a better story than a company literally saving the lives of hundreds of helpless people, we got shafted on our event. The local business journal was the only media to attend and cover the event. The Zoo was front page news for two days.

Ever since that day, when something happens that you can't control no matter how good or compelling a clients' story may be, we say that we were 'bitten by the two-headed snake.'

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