Try opening a new shop to sell smoothies in a small Utah town in the middle of Winter. Not just any Winter, one with subzero temperatures. You’d think it would be tough. It’s really a time when you’d probably do better selling hot chocolate. But thanks to some brilliant marketing, one small business owner is getting plenty of customers for his new smoothie shop in Vernal. He’s also getting national press. How? By taking a controversial political stand.
The owner is already a local celebrity for putting up billboards in support of oil and gas drilling in the town. Now he’s using his political views to get customers for his newest venture.
The large menu states that liberals will pay one price and conservatives pay another (not sure what moderates pay). If you’re a liberal you’ll pay $1 more for your smoothie. The extra dollar liberals pay gets donated to conservative causes. Again, brilliant. So is the name of the restaurant. It’s called the I Love Drilling Juice and Smoothie Bar.
Owner George Burnett is a real character, wearing his cowboy hat and not backing down from his opinions one bit. In other words this isn’t a publicity stunt (well, yes it is). He really believes it.
“I have liberals come in who pay $1 surcharge….actually all 3 liberals have been happy to pay it.”
Not only are customers rewarded for being conservative, employees must be too. They must not only believe in drilling for oil (raping and pillaging the earth), they have to share their views on social media and with bumper stickers. Again, brilliant!
Now, in just about any other town in the US this would be not only bold, but stupid. But this is Vernal, Utah, where liberals might get shot at. When I traveled through these towns in college, we always displayed our US flag on the car to hopefully ward off attacks (while we went hiking). This is a small town where most would rather liberals not even visit (it reminds me of Richfield, New York which has a sign that says: Welcome to Richfield — now go home). This move creates instantly loyalty. And this is Utah, where some parents buy pink guns for their babies (as featured on Nightline).
This reminds me of Chick-fil-A and their open anti-gay marriage position. It may have made them hated with some, but others love them for their stand. That’s a lot riskier since they have a national audience, but supposedly it has paid off since this article claims they have record-breaking profits. 7-Eleven gets political without taking a stand either way by letting their customers choose a Republican or a Democrat coffee cup and claims that they do accurately predict election results.
In other words, taking a stand or using your business as a platform for your beliefs or to measure your customer’s beliefs, seems to be a trend that can pay off. What it’s really doing is tapping into what their customers are passionate about.
What do you think, do politics and business mix well? And, would you drink the
Kool Aid conservative or the liberal smoothie?