Marketing ploy for TV show hits streets of SF to mixed reviews 

A guerrilla marketing ploy attracted lots of attention Thursday, but it did not always receive the warmest of welcomes.

About 20 actors — tall and slender, fashionably clad in long black jackets, with the men wearing Converse and the women high boots — made a fake ruckus chanting slogans such as “Fairly Legal, 10 p.m.” through a megaphone. Their chants conformed to the familiar rhythms of that infamous protest classic: “What do we want? Change! When do we want it? Now!”

Most people walked by without much apparent thought, or stopped to stare or took a promotional flier or cookie while gazing bemused at the picketers. But onlooker Jason Romero, who was sitting on the steps at the Montgomery Street transit station, chucked the remains of his croissant at the crowd.

“It’s totally a disgrace,” Romero said. “It’s tasteless.”

One of the actors tried to confront the man, but promotion organizer Courtney Moore yelled for him to keep walking.

The picketers were part of a stunt designed to promote the premiere of the USA network show “Fairly Legal,” which is supposedly based in The City but filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia. Few reactions were as pungent as Romero’s, though some were disappointed to learn that the series skipped town for a cheaper production environment.

“Are you serious?” said Duane Singh, who was clutching a gray-and-white cookie bearing the slogan, “Justice isn’t always black and white.”

“I mean if the protest has significance, I don’t mind it,” Singh said. “This is kind of annoying.”

For the most part, the unsuspecting lunchtime revelers were tricked into reading the fliers they had been handed. And even if they were a bit disappointed to discover that the protest was fake, they did have to concede that the stunt built awareness for its product.

“I’m not going to watch it, but I hope someone does,” said Ron Henoud, who lives and works in The City. He said the promotion was “annoying,” but clever.


It’s a stunt!

Marketers are increasingly branching out with novel forms of branding. Here are some other types of guerrilla marketing seen around The City:

  • “Angels & Demons”: Spray-painted sidewalk impressions
  • “Mafia Wars”: Davis Elen Advertising affixed 4,000 stickers to sidewalks
  • Blue Shields “Uncovered”: Campaign displayed numerous life-size, human sculptures in vulnerable positions
  • Campaign boycotting Sabra & Tribe Hummus: Posters in vacant bus shelters

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Kamala Kelkar

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