Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Lot Of Bull

Originally uploaded by Marinade Dave.
A number of years ago, there was a morning DJ team called Baxter & Mark on the old WDIZ-FM radio station. I'm sure they were, by far, the most popular morning show in Orlando. One of their regular segments, or features, was called the "Hideous Wake-Up Call." This consisted of someone submitting some kind of practical joke with suggestions on what to do or say. They would formulate a plan and then call these people, hoping to fool them to the point of tears. Tears of laughter or tears of pain. It didn't matter to them. One time, for instance, they called a girl who was set to get married that Saturday and have her reception at the Winter Park Civic Center. They told her that, due to a previous booking, and thus a conflict of interest, she would not be able to have her reception there on Saturday. Someone really screwed up big time. We're sorry. Could you postpone your wedding until the following week? Well, that did not sit well and boy did she cry. They finally fessed up and told her who had set that terrible joke up. It was the best man, with her fiancee's blessing. I always wondered if they ever did get married after that incident.

At the Beefy King restaurant, one of the family members who worked there had been a professional hockey player. NHL. Bill Fraser. George Plimpton actually wrote about him in one his books, six pages worth (Open Net: A Professional Amateur in the World of Big-Time Hockey.) One morning I was there, his mother came in. I know I heard her call him "Lammikins." You know, one of those names only a mother would call you. Then and there, I got an idea. Hmmm. Suppose I write a letter to those two radio guys. Ask them to call Bill and tell him you work for 'Restaurants & Institutions' magazine and you're doing an article on small, independent fast food restaurants in the south. Could we come by and interview you and maybe take a few pictures? Now, I had discussed this with his brother-in-law, Roland, to help set it up. He said Bill is always up by 5. Call him any time after that. No problem for Baxter & Mark. They had the 6-10 am shift, so calling that early was no problem. Tell him you had heard he was a professional hockey player at one time. Play that up. How many teeth did you lose? He won't get it. I mean, wouldn't you wonder how the two would be related? Then hit him with the Lammikins thing. That'll get him. He'll freak. And so he did. Click. As soon as he heard the nickname, he hung up. They promptly called him back and he was mad. How did you know that? Who are you? They told him who did it. I knew he wouldn't come after me. I had the blessings of his family.

After that aired, and they probably played it over and over again, at least a half dozen times that day, you'd be amazed how many people came in, for years after that, wanting to meet "Lammikins." I had created a very succesful advertisement. For free. A full page ad in the Orlando Sentinel would have cost thousands of dollars and never would have had nearly that kind of impact. Wow. I was gold around there. Yes sir, Mr. Dave. Anything you want. But actually it was the quality of food that sustained that one shot campaign for so long. My job is to drive in customers, yours is to keep them. And what are friends for? Besides, they already had a strong customer base, but, when someone came into town from Podunk, Florida, they sure did go out of their way to stop by Beefy King to meet Lammikins.

The funny thing was, as resourceful as the "Beefy Boys" were, they managed to cater functions there at the radio station for quite some time after that. One time, for at least a week, Baxter & Mark were hyping a visit by B.B. King that Friday. When the moment arrived, they exclaimed, "Here comes B.B. King now!...Now hold on...What the...Hey, that's not B.B. King...It's BEEFY KING!!!" In walked the boys, with platters of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Holy cow!

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