A grave marketing error

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SCOTT JAGOW: Remember the scare in Boston a few weeks ago? Some people thought a cartoon ad campaign was a bomb attack. Well, we have another marketing scheme gone awry. Stephen Beard joins us from London. Stephen, tell us about his one:

STEPHEN BEARD: If you were planning a promotional stunt which involved a treasure hunt — getting people to locate and then dig up a prize, where would be the last place you'd want to bury the treasure?

JAGOW: Uh, let me guess. Let me guess. . . . A cemetery in Boston.

BEARD: Yeah, pretty good. This was the brilliant idea that British confectionary giant Cadbury Schweppes, or at least its agents, came up with. They were promoting their Dr. Pepper soft drink in the U.S. and they had a treasure hunt. The idea was to bury gold coins in various locations around the states. The trouble was that one of these coins was buried in the 347-year-old GranaryBurying Ground in Boston where some of America's most revered historic figures are buried, such as Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere.

JAGOW: And how did Cadbury respond to this?

BEARD: Well, Cadbury's covered in embarrassment. I mean, the parks commissioner in Boston said this is an absolute "affront to the people who are buried there, our nation's ancestors." Cadbury Schweppes, they've apologized profusely, and acknowledging that the decision to bury the coin in a cemetery was poor judgment.

JAGOW: To say the least. And did they bury these coins anywhere else?

BEARD: The winning coin, at least the most valuable coin — the coin that could be redeemed for more than a million bucks — was buried near the Spirit of Confederacy statue in Sam Houston Park in Texas. Not quite as bad as a cemetery but I could see some potential for mayhem and damage there, too.

JAGOW: Exactly. All right, Stephen, thank you.

BEARD: OK, Scott.

JAGOW: Stephen Beard in London.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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