White Castle demonstrates why marketers should take a Hippocratic Oath of Advertising.

I might have the Hippocratic Oath a little wrong. Here, I’ll provide a link to it on Wikipedia if you want to get all technical. But in my memory (which is what I’m going on right now) the main concept is “First, do no harm.”

In other words, even if you know something needs to be done, and you’re the one to do it—stop! Hold on! Don’t. Do. Anything. Not until you’re sure you’re actually qualified to recognize the problem, and provide the solution, and most importantly be certain that you’re not going to make things worse in your well-intentioned effort to help.

If we marketers had to sign such an Oath, the above ad could have been avoided.

Man, I wish it would have been avoided.

Poor old White Castle has come a long way from this kind of thing:

Which is not the greatest commercial ever. But it does no harm, and reinforces the solid notion that the brand is about craving—and shows at least an awareness of the cultural capital and standards of humor and levels of taste that exist in the other media White Castle target consumers consume.

“Oh, my equity! My beautiful brand equity! I can feel it ...draining... draining away... leaving me.... gone....” [falls over]
“Oh, my equity! My beautiful brand equity! I can feel it …draining… draining away… leaving me…. gone….” [falls over]
“Slider-bration?” Dang. That’s rough. That’s a poverty.

Jeez. Think about it. White Castle has the rare luxury of a fairly well-defined brand that’s also cool. Why else would news outlets run stories about their Valentine’s Day promotions and experimentations with alcohol? Why else would Harold and Kumar want to eat there? Why else would it be everybody’s favorite late-night vice?

Every other restaurant has adopted their embrace of the originally derogatory term “slider.” C’mon: “slider” was originally a way to affectionately insult the little greasy things.

People give nicknames to stuff they like. Stuff they have a soft spot in their heart for. They don’t want The Marketing Department to make gimmicky “slider-bration” weird promotional taglines from the nickname. They don’t. Trust me.

This ad really needs to be pulled. It’s a bad idea done poorly. Or maybe the momentum of cool and mystique that surrounds White Castle is impervious to the unprofessional, sub-standard production values, hammy acting, generally bad execution and bad writing.

I guess I still buy Pringles now and then.