Don’t Oversell…And Keep Your Mouth Shut in Hostile Environments
On Halloween Night, a buddy of mine (we’ll call him Joe to keep it simple) called to tell me he was the winning bidder in a charity silent auction for a Steelers/Ravens game package. The package included flying from Pittsburgh to Baltimore in Mister Rooney’s Jet, limo service from the airport to the stadium, and use of Mister Rooney’s game tickets.
Joe was calling to invite me along for the trip.
The package sounded great and at the time it seemed the game would have an impact on the playoff picture. The Ravens were 4-3 while the Steelers were 5-2, they were scheduled to meet for the first time on November 5th, and the teams (and their fans) don’t like each other!!!
Well, a lot happened from Halloween to Christmas…especially for Baltimore. The Ravens lost and lost…and were eliminated from the playoffs. The Steelers also went into a bit of a slump but managed to win the AFC North title prior to the matchup with the Ravens. Since the game had little impact on the Steelers playoff seeding and the Ravens were long out of the playoffs, both teams were likely to play backups at key positions.
But, hey, the Steelers trip package would still be a unique experience. You don’t get to fly to every game in the owner’s private jet, right?
As we entered what has to be the smallest plane on the planet, our host said: “This can’t be Mister Rooney’s Jet, can it?”
The limo, ironically, was our largest mode of transportation for the evening, which made the ride to the stadium enjoyable…until one of our passengers decided to open the window and yell “Go Steelers!” The first of many taunts from Baltimore fans arrived moments later…and they didn’t stop until we left the stadium.
When we arrived at our seats, we started to wonder if anything in the package description at the silent auction was accurate…these seats were not Mister Rooney’s…or even Andy Rooney’s…maybe Bob Uecker’s, though…
Prior to the first heckler, I made the decision to grin and bear any tongue lashings from Ravens fans. However, when we decided to leave with the Steelers down big and playing mostly substitutes at key positions, I couldn’t help myself when a number of fans began shouting expletive-laced descriptions of the Steelers and our group…
I turned to the crowd with an open hand denoting four fingers and a thumb…or five…as in Super Bowls. For some reason, this increased the venom spewing from their mouths…I thought: “Not a good move. Maybe we better leave now.”
In fairness to Ravens fans, most of them were cool and joked with us. And, some members of our crew (including me at the end) should have kept our mouths (and hands) shut. So, on the whole, the game atmosphere was fine…
But, the play on the field, and the nonprofit’s description of the ‘package,’ that’s another story…
What does this have to do with Marketing and PR?
We often tell our clients how important it is to not oversell your customers…and to tell the truth…the whole story. It seems like the nonprofit used a bit of hyperbole to increase the bid, which resulted in our expectations not being met.
Our host was professional about the whole thing. He apologized to us about the seats on the plane and at the stadium, which he didn’t have to do. And, he added the key takeaway:
“Hey, it was all for charity and we had a good time anyway.”
Despite the plane being for Tiny Happy People, not overweight marketing guys, and the Steelers’ lackluster performance on the field, the trip was still a blast.
Thanks, Joe, and remember not to oversell your clients…