Friday, November 21, 2008

Effective Marketing Through Anti-Semitism?

It Took Three Days, But Larry Bodine Finally Got It; Law-Firm Marketing Guru Forced to Backpedal For Being More Than Just Politically Incorrect

Larry Bodine is a respected marketing advisor, with a long background in both PR and journalism. But he's proof of how smart people can catch a bad case of the stupids when they think they're being clever while trying to make a point.
Which means he should have known better before posting on his blog Nove. 14. The post reads in part:

I was conducting business development training at Joliet, IL, law firm when the focus turned to "30-second commercials" or "elevator pitches...."
The silver-haired senior-most litigator at the firm came up with the BEST elevator pitch ever. The senior partner said, "when I step onto elevator at the top floor, I size up the other person to see if he is a business man. I know they don't like lawyers."
"When they ask me, 'what do you do for a living?' I answer I'm a Nazi medical researcher." (my emphasis).
The businessman will react with shock. "Then I say, 'I was kidding. I just said that because I'm a lawyer...."
This always gets a laugh from the businessman.

Hardy, ha, ha.

It was bad enough that Bodine had the extremely poor judgment to repeat this for hundreds of other law-firm marketing professionals (and potential clients) to read.
But he dug in deeper when one reader objected to the joke being in "extremely bad taste."
Bodine replied:

Ken: the guy was JOKING. It was humor. To achieve a laugh, one must often exaggerate. The joke may offend you, but it works great for this rainmaker. Everybody's got a different style. You should use the one that works best for you.

Yes, because genocide can be a real knee-slapper in places like Joliet, right Larry?

Well, maybe not. Sufficiently chastened, Bodine posted again three days later to apologize. "In the clear light of morning, it is clear that it was anti-Semitic and repellent."

Ah, so it had been cloudy three days earlier. That explains it.

"A friend called me, recounting how he heard a Holocaust survivor describe being evaluated by Dr. Mengele in a concentration camp," Bodine wrote, "but was fortunate to be passed over. I was horrified and immediately deleted the blog post."

Give Bodine credit for owning up to posting something that transcends dumb, and likely would have gotten him fired if he was an employee rather than running his own shop.
What still boggles me is what was the process that led to thinking this was acceptable discourse in the first place?
If the lawyer had said "burn crosses for the Klan" or "beat up Mexicans trying to sneak over the border," instead of "Nazi medical researcher," it's highly doubtful that even Bodine would have posted it.
Since when did Nazis not on Hogan's Heroes become funny? That's the one part Bodine has yet to explain. Maybe just as well. He's already said more than enough.

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