Hype Really Works

Publicity stunts, if done right, can be an effective tool for showcasing a brand or business. While I don’t always agree with his tactics, former NFL Football player Brad Benson has certainly used hype to create a buzz about his car dealership, Brad Benson Hyundai in South Brunswick, New Jersey. His latest success was his awarding of a car to the Florida pastor who had encouraged his congregation to burn the Quran.

Benson had run a radio ad urging him not to and that he would give him a free Hyundai if he did not move forward with his plan to burn the Quran. Sure enough, Terry Johnson, the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida took him up on his offer after electing not to go forward with the Quran burning. He showed up at Benson’s dealership last week and promptly announced he would donate his new 2011 Hyundai Accent Hyundai to a Jersey City-based advocacy group, Women Rising.

The event was covered by all New Jersey and New York outlets and spread nationwide. Benson backed his hyped up ad campaign by seeing the stunt through to completion and the pastor earned some much needed goodwill.

Was it all done for publicity purposes? Sure it was. But what Benson did was place his dealership in the public eye for the course of a number of weeks. First, while he ran the ad during the controversial period when Pastor Johnson was threatening his Quran-burning, an action that led to President Obama calling him to ask him to defer. Secondly, he created an event that gave the promotion and his dealership, tremendous exposure.

So, while Bensons’ commercials may sometimes be over the top, like earlier ones parodying former New York Governor Spitzer or the one discussing erections, his stunt this time paid off. Brad Benson took advantage of someone else in the public spotlight and turned it into a win for his business.

Tom Cosentino

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