Good afternoon blogosphere,
This morning, I received a rather inconspicuous message in my work inbox from Moe’s Southwest Grill; not the corporation, mind you, but from a GMail account operated by the assistant general manager of the local branch in Turkey Creek. It was your run-of-the-mill marketing crap, wildly proclaiming a special offer of some kind. I guess can’t complain; I did drop my business card in that giant fishbowl at the restaurant, hoping to score a free burrito and implicitly giving Moe’s an open invitation to abuse my email account.
With that sort of devil-may-care attitude, I get a lot of junk mail, but I have to respect a well-written electronic marketing piece, like those that come from ThinkGeek, Microsoft, or Cheese Supply; they send sort of an electronic newsletter, with links back to the companies’ websites for more information. This train wreck, on the other hand, was the kind of ad you get for discount mortgages or erectile dysfunction products: giant typeface, copious use of bold and italics, and crazy alignment (I call it "ransom note" formatting). There were embedded images that my email client couldn’t render, URLs, and even a snazzy Word document attached. See what I’m talking about:
The infamous message
This flyer was the electronic equivalent of a guy in a clown costume with a flashing neon sandwich board, dancing on the street corner, and throwing water balloons at passing cars to solicit business. We all know how well that works.
To add insult to injury, the sender thought it’d be a swell idea to send it to 200 recipients using the plain ol’ "To" field, so that we could all start a little social club. That’s where the real story begins.
I thought nothing of the message as I groaned and dragged it into the Trash folder. However, a few moments later, I received a follow-up message from a mildly disgruntled recipient, who had decided to offer some friendly advice to the staff at Moe’s about discrete use of the "Bcc" field. She had elected to up the ante by using her "Reply to All" feature, so all of the original 200 recipients were treated to her insight.
From there, the shit really hit the fan, and I found myself passively participating in a good, old-fashioned pie fight. Some folks just replied to say "hi", while others insisted (by replying to the entire list) to be removed from the distribution. It had the all makings of a flame war. After about 20-odd rounds of messages, the shiny wore off of the experience, and everyone decided to get back to work. Nice job, Moe’s. Incite a riot; that’ll drive in the patrons.
I don’t know who I’d like to bitch-slap more: the original offender (who, by the way, profusely apologized with very sincere, heartfelt follow-up), the idiots who don’t know how to use their email clients to avoid such volleys of spam, or the slackers who can afford to participate in such tomfoolery during work hours. Of course, I’m wasting time blogging it, so I guess I fall into that third category. I’ll be sure to sucker punch myself later today.
On the other hand, I got to participate in a true local community experience, several hundred of my neighbors were introduced to one another (hi there!), and Moe’s is certainly a hot topic for conversation around offices across Knoxville today. I might even get some new readers in the process. Perhaps it’s all part of a savvy viral marketing campaign. Hey, maybe this blog post is part of that campaign; don’t you just crave some hot, fresh Moe’s cuisine right about now?