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Feb 22, 2011 12:45 PM

Offensive restaurant billboard pulled.


This just might be one of the worst thought out marketing campaigns ever.

  1. Oh my gosh.
    I am pretty stunned - I can't believe this ever got approved...horrible.

    The comments were pretty appalling as well

    1. I think if the restaurant had left off the "to die for!" bit it might have escaped notice but that's what pushed it over the edge. I remember Jonestown--I was 13--but it was less a "worldwide tragedy" situation and more of a "stupid idiots" situation in most people's minds, which is why "drinking the Kool-Aid" has become a staple in popular lexicon for people mindlessly following along with something and probably why the restaurant thought going that route might be funny.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MandalayVA

        I don't ever recall any articles or discussion that referred to these people as anything less than murder victims, which is exactly what they were.

        1. re: NellyNel

          That's because you remember. If you're under the age of 35 you don't and I guarantee that was the demographic this ad was reaching for. And I take it back--for some reason I always thought it happened in 1979 and it was actually 1978.

          Just out of curiosity I showed this ad to a few young coworkers of mine. None of them thought it was really that funny but it wasn't because of the reference but because "'drinking the Kool-Aid' is getting really lame." Only one of them knew about Jonestown and that's because it was a trending topic on Yahoo yesterday. A lot of young'uns think "drinking the Kool-Aid" is from a movie. And none of them, even when it was explained where the reference came from, thought the ad particularly offensive, including the vegan who once e-mailed the entire department in outrage over a Canadian restaurant ad that read something along the lines of "I like animals right where they belong, next to the mashed potatoes."

          1. re: MandalayVA

            Sad, sad state of affairs. To paraphrase a quote by Sant y Ana, "He who doesn't remember the past is condemned to repeat it." And I don't necessarily mean conscious, personal memories. This stuff needs to be taught and remembered as an awful, poisonous (no pun or play intended) historical event and an example of why people should be aware of the huge danger involved in giving one central person that much power.
            MandaylayVA, I came off at you kind of sharp, and I do apologize for that. In context, I grew up in an area where many of the victims hailed from.....Ukiah, California, 'bout 40 miles over the hill from home. We knew some of the victims, and many of their families. It resonated hugely in our community for that reason; it was very very personal to a lot of us. So, my response was predicated on my memory of the huge and terrible outcry, specifically in my locale, a/w/a what appeared to me to be people's unthinking and trite responses.

            1. re: mamachef

              No big deal and I understand that personal knowledge of people involved in something like this skews the view somewhat.

            2. re: MandalayVA

              I am 25 and this is the first time I heard of the orgins of the whole Kool Aid Cult sayings. It has almost become a generic stigma to quote ANY cult to sucide using kool aid-- almost jokingly or ironically put never serious .... It is a sad event and wish people would not need outside influences to feel important

        2. That has got to be one of the sickest, most reprehensible pieces of advertising lunacy I have ever borne witness to. The "idea man" who pushed it must have not been around for the horror of Jonestown, and the suits who agreed, complete idiots.
          Kids died at Jonestown.
          Families died at Jonestown
          People were beaten at Jonestown
          Human Rights were violated at Jonestown
          Wives lost husbands
          Husbands lost wives
          Children lost parents
          Friends lost friends.
          People died, horribly and in fear and pain, at Jonestown. And this company wants to invoke that horrible, horrible event as a way of pushing friggin' booze?
          I keep thinking that nothing can really suprise me anymore, but if we can substitute "appalled, sickened, and angry" for suprised, well, this one did.
          For shame. Shame on them all.

          8 Replies
          1. re: mamachef

            Just as appalling to me, are the many comments referring to the victims as "idiots".
            These people were forced to feed their children the poison, and watch them die..they were all murdered.
            Absolutely disgusting.

            1. re: NellyNel

              They were NOT idiots or anything even close to it, NellyNel. You are soooo right. They were a group of unfortunates looking for a better life who were brainwashed in the most classic of ways. The law of averages, MandalayVa, dictates that there couldn't possibly be that many "Idiots" grouped up in one spot. Were the Jews who followed orders and marched into the death chambers, "Idiots?" I think not. I KNOW not. This billboard trivialized an event which has sadly lost some of it's import in the mist of time and memory. But I bet there'd be a much bigger outcry, if say, that billboard had shown a line of people marching to the chambers with the caption, "Get your Gas here! It's cheaper!"
              It's all relevant. And Jim Jones was a monster.

              1. re: NellyNel

                Yes to everything mamachef and NellyNel said, I was in my 20's and living in Berkeley at the time and it seemed as if the world had turned on its axis. Those poor people. Poor Congressman Ryan. Poor families left behind. This is about as low as advertising could possibly stoop.

                1. re: NellyNel

                  I believe if they didn't drink they were shot.

                  The Murder of Congressman Leo Ryan was part of the carnage.

                  1. re: Withnail42

                    I just posted an interview with Congressman Ryan's daughter on Facebook that addresses that terrible day. Maybe then people will think it's EXTRA-humorous.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Hah, bt. Where do you think I lifted it from? Us old hippies have GOT to band together and keep the rage alive, and activism in the forefront!

              2. I thought the final line, about the humor and audience, said it best.

                I think the first/premier episode of "Family Guy" was an episode that parodied some cult that believed that a spaceship was following the Hale-Bop (Betting a spelling mistake there) comet. Many considered that to be offensive and I can see their point. Shows like the "Family Guy" and "South Park" are popular because they seek to find humor is risque subject matters and events. So, there's an audience for the stuff and I think many of them would have found the billboard funny. I didn't see a deliberate attempt to offend for attention, so didn't think it was a big deal.

                As for bad marketing campaigns, I don't think any company will ever top what Hell Pizza did.

                6 Replies
                1. re: ediblover

                  I'm just wondering: in what universe do the "audience" who would "enjoy this type of humor" live?

                  1. re: mamachef

                    I agree.
                    I am a fan of Family Guy, actually, as are quite a few of my friends.
                    I can say, without doubt, I know no one who would find this ad funny.

                    I am not familar with "Hell Pizza" or what they did. I can't imagine....Anyone?

                    1. re: NellyNel

                      It's a New Zealand pizza chain that's gotten in trouble a few times for their ad campaigns:


                    2. re: mamachef

                      Uh, South Bend, IN, mamachef. I showed the ad to the Spouse who used to live and work there, once upon a time. Didn't surprise him at all that the billboard ran there.

                      Btw, his personal response was along the lines of "Ugh."

                    3. re: ediblover

                      Family Guy and South Park can get away with it because they're cartoons. If it was a sit-com with real people, I think they would probably have to tone it down quite a bit.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        Yes, I also think that it is different when talking about a t.v. show. You can turn it off...a huge public billboard is not something you can choose to overlook.

                    4. I'm more bothered by what bad advertising it is than I am offended by it. If someone is stupid enough to want to associate their product with such an awful event, I can only assume equal intelligence and taste goes into their food. Not a place I want to eat.