City Pages reports that residents around the Minneapolis Uptown district have successfully petitioned against Parasole’s offensive billboard advertising in their neighborhood. The billboard in question is criticized for making an innuendo about the fresh meat served at Chino Latino, one of Parasole’s restaurants, and prison rape. (Sounds like an appetizing concept, doesn’t it?)
This is far from the first time Parasole and Chino Latino have imposed their brand of tastelessness upon the neighborhood. I am not even sure it is their worst, but this one got attention.
For my part I have always found this particular advertising strategy tacky and juvenile, maybe even desperate. After all, it seems to me that Parasole restaurants, once the go-to places in Minneapolis, are just one of many chains of mediocrity trying to figure out the next best trend. Even worse, Parasole’s imitators are out doing what they do in every way but tacky. Out of that clamor of sameness emerges this silly, desperate advertising strategy.
But back to the sign and the advertising campaign.
It is indeed tacky, juvenile, and perhaps even a bit desperate. Here’s a test. City Pages followed up on one of its blogs, opening it to discussion of the billboard and Parasole’s decision to take it down. City Pages notes that “[a]n overwhelming number of commenters thought it was fine.” Ok, let’s take a look.
One comment suggest — and yes they do so in all caps — that we “STFU AND GET THAT MEAT!” Another suggests that this is all about “Too many people with sticks up their butts.” Still others comment on the “sissies” and “losers” and “whiny babies who are sheltered from everything and lead sad, dreary lives.”
That’s pretty much the gist of the comments, although one guy attempts to frame this as a free speech issue and even there I think that reader has got it wrong.
(By the way, I would love to post of City Pages site and blogs, but they have some multi-step identification verifying process that requires you share your social media identity that is clumsy, inconvenient, and…yes!…tacky.)
The tone and the tenor of these comments says much about the issue at hand. Number one, I’m not sure the ad campaign is meant to speak to the…well, I’ll just say it…the more sophisticated and refined segment of the market. So what of it?
First off, one need not be necessarily offended by the joke to think that perhaps it does not belong on a billboard or even in an advertising campaign generally. True, that person could vote with his dollars, as one comment suggested, but they probably already do and that doesn’t change the point of the argument. Some people find the signage offensive and wanted it out of their neighborhood. Agree or disagree, that’s the argument here.
So let’s look further. The comments supporting the sign condemn its critics as “sissies” and “losers” and other such name calling. My point is the sign and the campaign is tacky, juvenile, and perhaps desperate. I claim that the campaign may not be attempting to speak to the most sophisticated audience. And…voila!…there you go!
You tell me, do these comments sound thoughtful and respectful? No, they sound tacky (e.g., “Don’t like prison rape, stay out of prison”), juvenile (e.g., “sissies” and “losers”) and perhaps desperate (“Call me cold or heartless but…”).
A person can be offended or just second-guess the judgement of Parsole and not be a sissie, loser, crybaby or whatever. The fact that the defenders of this campaign have only name calling to defend their support, well, I think that tells you a lot about what I don’t like about the campaign. Call me a snob — not a sissie — but I don’t like the campaign because it is indeed tacky and juvenile, not because I have no respect for humor. There’s a difference. City Pages’s story proves it.
Come on, Parasole, step it up.
(I hope the good people at City Pages will not mind my appropriate and appreciative use of their images.)