Jun 08

Forget WeinerGate. What about JudgmentGate?

How Cartoon11 come we're hounding Congressman Anthony Weiner out of office but allowing Brother Harold  Camping to continue scaring people and collecting millions of dollars for his ersatz preaching?

In case you don't recognize the name, Camping's the lunatic who predicted Judgment Day would occur on May 21. As a result of his rants, people emptied their pocket books, quit their jobs and sent Brother Harold more than $9 million.

Camping predicted Judgment Day would begin worldwide at 6pm local time on 5/21. It would feature a rash of terrible earthquakes that would kill millions, unearth every casket and see only the “true believers” rising to heaven. Survivors of Judgment Day would chill with the now undead until October 21st, at which time God would mercifully finish off the planet.

Needless to say, there were no earthquakes. In fact, the only rumblings came from some of the believers Camping had bilked out of their life savings. One misguided European teenager actually committed suicide in anticipation of Judgment Day.

And, yet, Brother Harold's back on TV and radio with a slightly corrected prediction. He says we experienced a quiet Judgment Day and that we're still on track for an October 21st blitzkrieg from the Big Guy.

Camping is a zealot. And, zealots are dangerous. I'd label him a religious terrorist. He's using fear to once again whip up a frenzy, scare the uneducated and rake in a whole lot of additional loot. But, the mainstream media's giving him a free pass.

I'm not suggesting politicians such as Arnold and Anthony shouldn't be pilloried for their misbehaving. But, as far as I know, neither stole money from people, ruined lives or caused at least one suicide. So, how come the media's going 24×7 about WeinerGate but ignoring JudgmentGate?

Camping's a brilliant scam artist. He uses ersatz math to formulate an end of days pronouncement. Then, when it doesn't happen, he simply pushes the date back six months and says it will still happen. In effect, he's saying God has granted us an extension. But, unless I've missed something, God doesn't work for the IRS and we're not talking about tax filings.

I believe religion, and not money, is the root cause of all evil. Fundamentalists like Camping are no different than terrorists such as bin Laden. The former's weapon of choice is words. The latter's was, of course, weapons.

The media will wake up again only when Camping begins spending millions of newly-collected dollars from his fearful flock in early October. At that time, he'll once again proclaim the end of the world and TV's talking heads will once again joke about end of the world parties. Until then, though, the Fourth Estate will stay focused on the sleazy and sordid behavior of politicians and celebrities instead of exposing this nut job's dangerous ways. The former hypes ratings. The latter could save lives and fortunes.

May 23

Judgment Day is every marketer’s dream

HeaderI don't know about you, but I had a blast in the minutes, hours, days and weeks leading up to  6pm, Saturday May 21, 2011 (AKA Judgment Day). Sure, nothing happened. But, so what? There were so many great tweets, blogs, status updates, videos and new comedy bits that it made the whole non-event a mega happening.

That's why I think President Obama should declare May 21st Judgment Day. And, it should be treated as an annual national holiday. I know marketers would absolutely love it. Retailers, for example, could own Judgment Day Eve. Just imagine the TV commercials:

– “Special end of the world prices like you've never seen! You'll agree Best Buy is positively otherworldly!”

– “You want some rapture? Check out our Judgment Day Eve prices at The Gap!”

– “Radio Shack's prices are the absolute lowest you'll find in this life.” 

Sales on Judgment Day Eve would totally eclipse Thanksgiving's Black Friday (and, give a whole new meaning to the color black as well, thank you very much). As a matter of fact, Valspar, Dutch Boy or some other paint brand should create a special 'Grim Reaper Black' shade for the occasion).

Turning to sporting events, I envision:

– Judgment Day doubleheaders at baseball stadiums (the Anaheim Angels would, of course, be featured on the national game of the week)
– 'End of the world' World Cup soccer matches (India vs. Pakistan would make for a neat opening match)
– And, how about a special pre-season college football game pitting the University of Notre Dame against Brigham Young University? I'll bet even He would tune in for that contest. And, I guarantee a mega sponsor would snap up the rights faster than you could say Adam and Eve. I can see it now: 'Ladies and gentlemen, and viewers around the world, welcome to the 2012 Quiznos Judgment Day Bowl.' And, just imagine if the Fighting Irish and Cougars end up tied at the end of regulation? Talk about sudden death overtime. Wow. The Batesville Casket Company should think about that particular branding opportunity.

But, wait, there's so much more marketers could do on Judgment Day. K-Mart, Wal-Mart or one of the other big box chains should copy Macy's and sponsor a parade. Harold Camping could be named honorary marshall in perpetuity. Cities could compete for hosting honors (a la the Olympics). And the winning city would earn the right to rename itself Sodom or Gomorrah for the day. The sponsor could hold an online contest to select Lot and his wife (and, wouldn't the latter search be a superb branding opportunity for Morton's Salt?).

Judgment Day could be the new crystal meth for marketers. Like eternity itself, it has limitless possibilities.

It's the mother of all days, and deserves to be repeated year after year after year until, god forbid, it actually becomes the REAL Judgment Day. Until then, I'd like to hear from each and every member of my flock. What branding opportunities am I missing?