Marketing Mayhem: It’s chill, it’s fresh, it’s Noah’s Arcade

Dearest Wayne’s World, even though it’s been almost 20 years (ye god), you still hold a special place in my heart. In addition to the family tradition of singing, “we got five thousand dollars” in response to even a small windfall, you introduced us to Queen, the AMC Pacer, and Noah Vanderhoff.

Yes, Noah Vanderhoff. Remember him? He was the clueless business guy who owned Noah’s Arcade. (Fun fact: Vanderhoff was played by Brian Doyle-Murray, who is Bill Murray’s brother. Thanks, Wikipedia!)

I found myself thinking of Noah recently when a kind friend sent me this direct mail piece, as an early Christmas present for Marketing Mayhem. The postcard comes from a marketing firm that specializes in producing campaigns for colleges and universities.

Description: a hologram postcard showing a hand model fondling an iPad.

Ahem. Let’s count the trends:

1) Flashy, nontraditional, non-biodegradable, bizarro plastic paper stock. “Can we print on this cafeteria tray and bulk mail it? Sweet!”

2) Hologram graphic. “3-D! Like Avatar!”

3) An iPad. “The kids love those, right?”

4) On the back side, a QR code. Or as I like to think of them, a shortcut to lameness.

I term them “lamecuts.”

That’s a lot of tacky for one postcard. Taken together, it’s such a fabulous pastiche of inept youth marketing that it seems like Noah himself was sitting in the art director’s chair. Even though this postcard isn’t designed for young people — it’s for the higher-ups tasked with attracting said young people — their pitch is clear: insert flashy youth trend in a traditional ad and watch the cash roll in. What could go wrong?

(The joke’s in the first clip, but if you’re jonesing for some 90’s nostalgia feel free to watch the whole reel.)

In summary: Slapping an iPad on everything is to marketing to young people in 2011 as old white guy rapping was to marketing to young people in 1992. It’s like a really awesome strategy…if you want everyone to think you’re a total poseur.

I must confess, the wisdom of developing iPad marketing apps in general is lost on me. Who would download a college viewbook app that looks and smells like an ad when you can check out Wikipedia, the official website, anonymous review sites, or just Google it?  Even though a lot of viral content marketing is cliche — I’m looking at you, subservient chicken — at least it acknowledges the top reasons why people use the Internet: to look at funny videos, facebook-stalk high school people, and read blogs about food. In other words, to be entertained.

I was so distracted by this faulty Noah’s-Arcadian logic that I nearly missed the crown jewel of this piece: the marketing company’s name? “Creosote.”

Creosote. That stuff that causes chimney fires.

Unless it’s a family name, I’m assuming they chose it on purpose for its association with..danger? Hotel fires? Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

At least they resisted the urge to use the tagline “Get Fired Up!”

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