What We Can Learn From a Business That Didn’t Advertise - Word&Way

What We Can Learn From a Business That Didn’t Advertise

Unless you were a Tampa Bay fan, this year’s Super Bowl was a bust. The score wasn’t close. More cardboard cutouts were in attendance than actual people.

Ken Satterfield

Ken Satterfield

Even the game’s advertisers had to walk a tightrope. Between COVID, polarized politics, high unemployment, and a fragile economy, imagine how difficult it would be to make the most of a $5.5 million-per-30-second-spot ad.

It’s estimated that adults make about 35,000 decisions a day – more than 226 of those on food alone. If you want to break through the clutter at $183,000 a second, how do you do it?

Perhaps one of the biggest ad splashes was made, not during the game, but by Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina, thanks to an unexpected appearance on a broadcast of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that aired after the game.

To avoid a spoiler alert, watch the ad segment:

Colbert, who had run a public service announcement supporting local businesses during the Super Bowl, decided to put his talk into action and highlight a random small business. The ad they created for the Boone business features a pair of well-known actors: Sam Elliott provides narration and Tom Hanks appears as a “satisfied customer” who also sings a not-too-bad jingle.

Wait, is this a real business?  you may ask. It is, though why this business was chosen is not known. A GoFundMe page and social media posts give more background about the indie bookstore and their needs in order to stay in business.


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A post shared by Foggy Pine Books (@foggypinebooks)

Didn’t they notice the film crew?  Yes they did, though bookseller Deion Cooper tells Southern Living they were led to believe it was being shot for a segment on small businesses with no guarantee it would ever air.

The store stated they needed to sell 1,350 books in February to stay open. Thanks to a fake ad they could never have afforded and sales from across the country, they are able to stay open.

What can we learn from this good news story?

* Honesty really is the best policy. When you are asked how you are doing, the automatic response is “fine.” Had Foggy Pine Books not publicized their needs, this blessing could have never happened.

* The Golden Rule rules. The store had been supported by faithful customers who apparently appreciated the business and more than likely, their customer service. Could a forgotten interaction months ago played a role in why they were chosen? The way we treat others can often pay dividends down the road, whether you are a business, church library, or church.

* Use cameo appearances. You may not personally know any A-list actors, but this is a reminder that our local celebrities can help your promotional efforts. For instance, if a library can use celebrity readers for story times to make an event more newsworthy; when they share their positive experience, it is a second wave of publicity. And they may help tell your story and needs, even if they are not a television host.

* Please and thank you can be magic words. Not only did the bookstore ask for help, but they were quick to express thanks and share that thanks in hiring new booksellers.

* We can be unexpectedly blessed – or bless unexpectedly. We never know when disaster will strike, but the reverse is true as well: we never know when a blessing is right around the corner. (Or, in this case, on late-night television.)

You may not have the resources of a Super Bowl advertiser or television network. Instead, why not share a positive impact through word-of-mouth affirmations and random acts of kindness?

I lift up my eyes to the hill, says Psalm 121:1, from where will my help come? For a bookstore in Boone, the Lord may have worked through very unusual means – and inspires us to do the same.

Ken Satterfield has more than three decades of media and marketing experience for Baptists and is currently a freelancer in Jefferson City, Missouri.