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The BM Files – Goodwill/St. Louis Aquarium

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Welcome to The Bad Marketing Files, the place where we look at marketing efforts ranging from the slightly off-message to the truly horrendous.

The Setting
A Goodwill/St. Louis Aquarium billboard on Interstate 70

The Problem
The billboard sends messages neither entity wants associated with its brand.

Today’s BM Rating
💩 out of a possible
💩💩💩💩💩
(Translation: It’s not good, but it’s not going to get anyone fired)

The Details
👇🏾 Let’s Roll … 👇🏾

Bad marketing is rarely obvious to the folks in the organization being marketed. This leads to those “How could that have gotten through so many people to actually see the light of day?” moments that make marketing people laugh while simultaneously quietly praying we’re never on the other side of the chuckle.

On Interstate 70 just west of St. Louis is a billboard for Goodwill. The message is straightforward: Donate a car, get four tickets to the St. Louis Aquarium.

Billboard space on a major interstate near a major metropolitan area (and St. Louis) ain’t cheap, so if you’re going to hang your shingle up there, you better have a good message. This isn’t a good message — for either entity.

For Goodwill, the reward of four tickets to an aquarium with decidedly mixed reviews isn’t valuable enough to entice people to pass up selling their vehicle for actual money. Thus, Goodwill comes off looking out of touch and like it’s trying to push a bad deal.

For the aquarium, the message sent on the Goodwill billboard is that the price of admission is so high that giving away your transportation is a reasonable solution to get your family inside.

Neither message is what either organization wants consumers to feel when they think of their brand. No one’s going to lose their job over this one, but it’s not marketing money well-spent.

Have you seen any bad billboards out there? Email me and let me know what it said and why you think it belongs in the BM Files.


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