Burriss: Hamilton ad a goof or what?

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A few years ago a clothing company got into trouble when it ran an underwear ad featuring young boys. The magazine ad only ran one time, but with all of the free publicity the company got, there was some thought that the advertiser knew there would be controversy, and just wanted everyone talking about them.

Now another company has done something similar. I'll tell you the story, but I'm not going to name them so critics won't accuse me of giving away free publicity.

Anyway, an on-line coupon company recently ran a President's Day promotion in which they said they were going to honor President Alexander Hamilton, who appears on the 10-dollar bill. The news release about the promotion also said Hamilton was one of our greatest presidents.

Did you catch that: President Alexander Hamilton? In case you're still wondering what the problem is, I hate to tell you this, but Hamilton was never president. But he was the first secretary of the treasury, which I guess is a connection with advertising and money.

Even after the mistake was pointed out, company officials merely said that whether or not Hamilton was ever president was simply a matter of opinion.

But wait a minute, with all of the publicity the supposed gaffe has produced, there is some thought the company did it deliberately, to generate publicity and sales. The company, it should be noted, has fallen on some hard times, and can use all of the help it can get.

Then there were the complaints that, on the assumption this was just a publicity stunt, rather than an actual mistake, news organizations that ran stories about the error were simply complicit in giving the company free publicity. On the other hand, if it is a mistake, it is certainly newsworthy.

So was this just an elaborate joke, or does the company really think Hamilton was a president? The way conspiracy theories work, we'll probably never know.

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Larry Burriss
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