When I found myself trying to run over a pigeon on a Los Angeles street, it was time to get out of the business. I am an animal lover. I had rats living in my attic I refused to kill. I do not make a difference between an animal's life and a human. As an aside I had a relative, a professor, an eminent, to some, psychologist in New York City who filled his very ample Greenwich Village apartment with birds for years then wrote a book positing that birds are smarter than us. For this he was called a birdbrain on national television.
So what got me to that murderous point? A television commercial shoot for a product I forgave and forgot, pigeons as props. I owned a commercial film production company, am a producer and hope I have done enough penance by now. I helped sell meals that aren't so happy, drugs that do more harm than good, beer for breakfast and plastic whipped cream. Take a look at Mad Men if you don't believe me. Advertising is all about lies.
Homing pigeons are called homing pigeons because they always go home, their home. Always. If you take them to a shoot location and it's not their home site, when they are released, they will fly home. Always. The director of the commercial couldn't grasp that concept. Neither could the advertising agency. They wanted the pigeons to do what they wanted on their time line, never mind that there were three different types of pigeons ready to do different tasks. They are very very smart. Not so the agency folk. The sight of an agency creative running across the park trying to lure homing pigeons back, still makes me laugh. That and the director's breakdown.
So it was with a perverse delight when I was apprised of the Chick-Fil-A brouhaha. Here is a CEO sticking it to the advertising agency. Something I always wanted to do, but alas, didn't. This man goes for the jugular. He wants to expand his business. Why pay for promotion when you can get it free. In the make a sex tape world, just have someone prominent in your company, like your CEO, make a controversial statement that appeals to your customer base, sit back and watch your sales skyrocket. People will organize to go to your business and buy your product and support you, i.e. make you a lot of money. Advertising? This is way better, and free.
I for one never knew Chick-Fil-A existed. Not that I'm running to eat there even if they married gays like some Vegas chapel. For the record I feel anyone who wants to marry should. Why not? Who comes up with these crazy restrictions? People love each other and want to make a commitment to the other. What's wrong with that?
But back to this brilliant marketing campaign. Imagine if we take all the polarizations we have in this country, and there are quite a few, maybe add some more, throw fuel on the fire, and sell some chicken, or burgers or whatever other unhealthy product these capitalists can muster up. It's all about making money isn't it? Do Walmart shoppers know Chinese practice birth control and have abortions and maybe don't believe in God. I'm sure most would think that is more important than Chinese workers threatening mass suicide to get better working conditions. Imagine.
Appealing to bigotry, prejudice, racism works. Divide and conquer. Posit a point of view, and the more controversial the better, and all of a sudden you have customers coming out of the woodwork. Some well known ones too, and all for nothing. Folks this is a revolution. It can change the world. You can have your morality fights with your pocketbook, and again make someone else rich while we remain divided and broke and well you know, fighting like unruly kids and not on the upswing. We're more concerned over what someone else is doing that harms no one than in what we are doing to our health. Come on folks what really will hurt you? Two people who love each other marrying or some deep fried food?
So here's to all the ad agencies, adios. Publicity is free. And maybe birds are smarter, maybe animals in general. We certainly aren't.