Explorer Joe Exotic Meats: Bad Taste?
Like many others, I was horrified when I saw this screenshot of Honestbee’s making the rounds on Facebook — with the timing seeming to indicate that it was an April Fools’ PR stunt gone terribly wrong. DEFCON 5 wrong. I was also surprised, because I thought the folks at Honestbee were a lot smarter than this. As it turned out, there’s more to the story — and it’s not what you’d expect.
It’s also made me a customer for life.
Explorer Joe’s … Wildlife Conservation?
The plot thickens! I received this email from Honestbee this morning.
At first I was still annoyed with them, because of the sheer nastiness of seeing endangered animals for sale in an online grocery delivery platform. A platform that I use frequently, which just adds to the betrayal.
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the whole thing was sheer brilliance on their part. See that link to Explorer Joe Exotic Meats below the email signoff?
That leads to this website.
With some instant education on endangered animals:
And an explanation of why we should give a damn about wildlife conservation, and links to take action for wildlife conservation:
Explorer Joe Exotic Meats: Brilliant
Why is it brilliant? A few reasons, starting with timing.
#1 Timing is everything in bait-and-switch PR stunts
Honestbee timed this so that there was a period long enough to garner attention, outrage and lots of attention on social media, just in one day. Long enough to create a heck of a buzz, but too short for them to lose a truckload of customers or sales revenue. The next day, they did a mic drop with the big reveal on their website about the real reason for that cringeworthy product page of endangered animals — and an email to customers making it very clear that they are serious about wildlife conservation.
Speaking of timing, after I received the explanatory email from them, I noticed that the product page for Explorer Joe Exotic Meats has changed:
All proceeds from the sales on this page go to wildlife conservation. Doing well so far, Honestbee.
#2 Principled Decision, Calculated Risk
This was a (huge) calculated risk, and I really appreciate the fact that Honestbee stuck to their principles in deciding to go ahead with this. Sure, it would have been a lot easier and far less risky to simply add a link to wildlife conservation programmes, or pledge a portion of their revenue to wildlife conservation. However, that simply wouldn’t have been as effective in terms of reach and awareness about this issue. They knew they could lose customers, even after they made the big reveal, even after that decidedly somber customer email explaining that they haven’t lost their minds. They did it anyway.
#3 They Got Under Your Skin For A Good Cause
Yes, that product page was horrifying. It was in poor taste (no pun intended, I promise). It was an apparently facetious take on a very serious issue. Yes, you were/ still are mortally offended. Hang on a minute, though. It got you thinking and talking about wildlife conservation and endangered species, didn’t it?
Yes, they provoked strong reactions, but they got people to talk and think about a very serious issue that doesn’t quite get as much traction as it should in your Facebook newsfeed on any given day. Honestbee didn’t stop there, though: once they got you all riled up and ready to defend a baby panda with your bare hands, they made it really easy for you to contribute to wildlife conservation programmes. Once again, brilliant.
Explorer Joe Exotic Meats: Yea or Nay?
I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed by the cojones it took to pull this off, and the principled decision to do it. I’m also happy that it wasn’t a PR stunt for their own sales, but to raise awareness and funds for wildlife conservation. I hope they don’t lose too many customers over this, but they’ve got one for life right here.