In the Fishbowl

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It is said that any publicity is good publicity, but sometimes you really have to wonder.

December 01, 2001

It is said that any publicity is good publicity, but sometimes you really have to wonder.

Take, for example, a promising water-themed marketing idea from Miller and Smith of McLean, Va., that wound up making the home builder look all wet.

"To promote our new waterfront community of Lake Ridge Point to local Realtors, we decided to have a messenger service deliver a large fishbowl with a live goldfish and fish food to the largest Realtor offices in the area," says Spence Stouffer, vice president of marketing at Miller and Smith.

Unfortunately, those deliveries were not made in a very, shall we say, timely manner. All the Realtors received dead fish in big glass bowls with the community’s name emblazoned on them.

"We received probably 25 enraged phone calls, several letters, and we were even reported to the Humane Society," Stouffer says. "We of course had to write letters of apology."

Nonetheless, Stouffer adds, "Our community - and its water orientation - became very well-known."

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