Everyone loves a great guerilla-marketing stunt, but one of the most well-represented brands in America, Coca-Cola, had one of their stunts go awry this past weekend during the Final Four festivities in New Orleans.
After hiring a local ad agency to assist them in their marketing push, stenciled logos (pictured above) soon graced sidewalks along the historic French Quarter. Apparently, Coke did not do their research on this area as the entire French Quarter is treated as a “living museum”, and their sidewalk graffiti was considered as defacement of public property. Coca-Cola spokesperson Kel Villarrubia claimed “There was a miscommunication between our (hired) agency of what the permits from the city allowed. It was clearly a miscommunication on the part of our agency. When we learned of their misinterpretation, we moved very quickly to send out crews to remove the stencils that they had placed.”
The lesson here is to always do your homework. The local agency should have researched permitting laws. If they had done this, they would have realized that law prohibited the placement of any advertising on public property between March 28 and April 4, unless sanctioned by the NCAA and approved by the city, and also that violators would be fined for not obeying this ordinance. While street art and guerilla marketing stunts are quirky, clever and innovative, failure to verify the legality of any stunt can result in negative publicity.
Will this negatively affect the way Coca-Cola is perceived? The brand is 126 years old and is in very good public standing but do you think they handled this situation in the best way possible?