Dr Pepper Eats Dirt After US Cemetery Blunder

27 February 2007

BOSTON, Mass: On Monday WARC News reported a KFC promo stunt involving Pope Benedict XVI, slamming it as likely to be to be the year's tackiest promotional stunt. We were wrong. That thorny garland is now awarded to Cadbury Schweppes' Dr Pepper brand after it sent promotional contestants scurrying around one of the nation's most historic graveyards in the hope of finding "buried treasure".

With masterly understatement, Cadbury communications director Andrea Dawson-Shepherd conceded that Boston's 347-year-old Granary Burying Ground (the resting place of John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and other notable US citizens) "was not an appropriate place to bury a coin".

She continued: "It was poor judgment and we have apologised to the authorities. No damage was done to any of the graves."

The promo, devised by an unnamed Cadbury agency, challenged the public to find buried coins via a series of in-pack clues. An agency hired by Cadbury chose the historic cemetery site, among several others.

The Granary Burying Ground was promptly closed amid fears that graves could be desecrated. Fumed Boston Parks Commissioner Toni Pollak: "It absolutely is disrespectful. It's an affront to the people who are buried there, our nation's ancestors."

The promo's top prize - a coin with a redeemable value of $1.5 million (€1.14m; £764k) - was found by a Houston woman near to the Spirit of Confederacy statue in that city's Sam Houston Park.

Given that the latest debacle follows hard on the heels of Turner Broadcasting Systems' abortive bomb scare promo, it seems unlikely that Boston's John B Hynes Convention Center will be rushing to host this year's Promotion Marketing Association conference.

Data sourced from BBC Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff