July 21, 2011

Extra virgin olive oil gelato, mud, and elk bugling: essentials for a PR toolbox.

Who could walk by this board without at least looking at the first flavor?

The sign next to the L’Arte del Gelato cart stopped me in my tracks.  Extra virgin olive oil gelato?  Really?  While the thought of it didn’t actually make me salivate, anyone with a spirit of adventure (and Italian heritage in her DNA) would not pass up the chance to try this odd-sounding flavor.

The verdict after a sample taste?  Let’s just say that I won’t be forgoing hot fudge for olive oil any time soon.

But that one little taste was all it took to seduce me into buying a cup of Madagascar vanilla – $3.25 for a tiny cup that became a memory in 3 minutes – and, while waiting, studying the flavor menu committed me to a return visit (who wouldn’t go back for Nocciola delle Langhe?).

Curiosity prompted me to ask the server if the EVOO gelato is a popular flavor.  His answer:  “everyone comes in to taste it…and then they order something else.”

Hats off to L’Arte del Gelato, then, for a spectacular use of “intriguing weirdness” as a marketing hook.  The flavor gets top billing on the menu board, and they produce it regularly, knowing full well that very few people are really going to order it.  And damn if that gateway drug doesn’t transition people right into getting addicted to “the good stuff.”

The moral here?  When done tastefully (no pun intended), a little weirdness can be just the lure you need to cut through the clutter and grab people’s attention.  When Redpoint launched Mud Season Packages for the New England Inns & Resorts Association, we heard from several member properties that consumers who inquired about the quirky mud experience usually converted to a more “traditional” package booking (but they booked).  And when we created Elk Bugling packages for Gateway Canyons Resort, the same thing happened…media loved it and consumers were intrigued by it, but the increase in bookings had people rafting, biking, and horseback riding…NOT mastering the obscure art of elk bugling.

Business owners and brand managers often resist creating a package, product, or service that they know isn’t really going to sell, but the PR value alone can achieve an enviable ROI just by drawing eyes (and click-thrus) to the brand.  As long as it doesn’t cost too much to create, or require intense operational resources, a notably unusual offering can earn its keep just by luring in potential customers…and the rest is up to you.

And to the creative marketing folks at L’Arte del Gelato?  I see your EVOO gelato, and I raise you sundaes topped with insects, people chewing glass, and the spiritual benefits of shrinking your enemy’s head.  Ha!  Didn’t know that Redpoint represents Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square, did ya?  Thanks to Ripley’s – the nirvana of odd things – we can pretty much take anyone in a “Quirky PR Throwdown.”

One thought on “Extra virgin olive oil gelato, mud, and elk bugling: essentials for a PR toolbox.

  1. This is so true. Promoting a package that is unique and even “odd” can increase a resort’s visibility far beyond the basic, “same old” mid-week special. It’s getting everyone on the team to buy into it that is sometimes the challenge.