Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Well, my Marketing in the Wild friends, I have a story to tell you for this solo episode. It’s a little bit different than our normal ones. It’s quite literally a story of marketing in the wild. It contains dinosaurs, it contains drama, et cetera. Just kidding. I’m kind of hyping it up a little bit more than I should, but it happened in my neighborhood.

I live in Bountiful, Utah and we have a gas station around here that many of you have heard of. It is called the Sinclair Gas Station. And if you have ever seen a Sinclaire gas station, you know that it has a green dinosaur out front. Probably a few weeks ago, maybe a month ago, I noticed that somebody had quite literally driven into our local Sinclair’s dinosaur.

And I was like, oh, that’s weird. And every time we went by it, like, it just slowly became this memorial. So first, there was yellow caution tape around it so nobody would get hurt. There was literally pieces of Dino laying around. And then as the weeks went by, there was like, “Get Better Soon” balloons attached to it. And then flowers. Just like all of these tokens of appreciation for poor Dino who had been obliterated by a car. And so every time we drove past it, I just laughed. I was like, oh, that’s cute. That’s really fun. That’s awesome. And then it took a turn. My husband sent me a picture the other day and I’m going to read it to you since you can’t see it. 

If you go to our show notes, you’ll be able to see the sign itself, but they cleared away Dino. The Dino is gone in front of our local Sinclair, but instead there is a sign of a child hugging the neck of a Dino dinosaur, and the sign says “Dino is recovering from his accident and will return soon. Watch for his welcome home party.”

How Dino's Accident Turned into Great Marketing | Marketing in the Wild Podcast

So this is when I was like, Crap! I should’ve gotten pictures of the broken dinosaur because this is like a perfect example of marketing in the wild, like quite literally, we’ve got dinosaurs and I’m going to tell you where the drama comes in, but this local Sinclair harnessed this happening, this accident, and has made marketing out of it, basically. First of all, they were already getting a ton of attention because the Dino was broken and just laying there for awhile with all of these memorial flowers and memorial balloons, but now they have taken it and they’re creating a welcome home party. It is a gas station, you guys! A gas station is having a welcome home party for a dinosaur.

First of all, if you live in a small town, you know that stuff like this makes the local news. I thought we lived in a small enough community that it would have made the local news, but I couldn’t find it. And so my husband got a picture of the sign, but I still didn’t have a picture of the dinosaur. And I felt like, yes, I could come on and tell you this story, but you really needed to see the picture of the dinosaur to get it.

And I get that you guys can’t see pictures, but still, if you’re visiting the show notes, you’re going to be able to see these pictures. And so I wanted to make sure that I followed through. So I went on Nextdoor. Brief intermission. If you’re not familiar with Nextdoor, it is an app that you can connect to in your neighborhood. You actually have to register, prove that you live there. And so you’re only connecting with the people who are your neighbors. I am sorry to the creator who created Nextdoor, but I literally joke about it as if it is the Facebook for old people. I’m also sorry to all the old people out there who like Nextdoor.

I, for a while, took a social media break and went on Nextdoor, and I would just laugh my head off because of the things that people post on here. It is ridiculous. There are cool things. Like we live in the mountains and people will see like cougars in their backyard and they’ll get pictures of them and so they’ll post those. Those are kind of cool as long as it’s not in my backyard. But they really, like what I find on Nextdoor the most, is people complaining. Like people who complain about their neighbors and it just drives me crazy. They’re not willing to have these actual conversations with their neighbors, but instead they’ll go to Nextdoor and complain about people’s dogs who are pooping in their yards. And it’s literally like what Nextdoor is for. 

So, I knew that my neighbors spend a lot of time on Nextdoor. So I went to Nextdoor and I posted my first post. I said, “I know this is a long shot, but did anyone get a picture of the Sinclair dinosaur at the Sinclair after it was crashed into?” 

And people delivered, let me tell you. I have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 pictures. Literally, some of them are where the crash happened. So I’ll post a slew of these on our show notes, so you can see it, but we see all the stages. We see the stage of like, actually like people pulling the car out of the dinosaur. We see when it has fallen over, it was on its last leg, I guess. We see the balloons on this, the yellow caution tape, we see everything you guys. 

And so my neighbors pulled through. And so this is why I also am like, okay, this Sinclair is getting way more publicity probably than any other Sinclair in the country. And it’s because one, we live in a community that’s pretty engaged, especially on Nextdoor, I guess, but they’re harnessing that engagement and creating a party out of it.

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So the party is on December 18th, if any of you guys would like to come to Bountiful, Utah, to the Sinclair. But it was crazy because as people were commenting on this post, there is like one woman who said that she actually cried when she saw that Dino was destroyed. That is Cheryl, our dear friend, Cheryl, she cried and hopes that he comes back.

Melissa felt really bad for Dino. Emma said, “Sad! Poor little guy.” Terry said, “This is awful. It made me sick.” These people are incredibly invested in Dino coming home. And so how cool that this weird old gas station is harnessing this community engagement to create some publicity for itself. I guess I helped a little bit, claim to fame, with my Nextdoor post. But I think what I just want to remind you all of is, this is a great example of marketing in the wild. I’m telling you, but how can we then apply this to like our own businesses?

Sometimes accidents happen. You probably are not in the business of having dinosaurs outside of your building or having, hopefully, not having car accidents outside of your building. But if there’s an accident that happens or a happening, I mean, I would call it a happening cause it could be a good or a bad happening, what can you do with it to make something, make a story out of it? 

And the other lesson that I would have is if you remember a while back, Ryann and I had an episode about getting weird on social media, I think you can also get weird and have fun in real life. IRL. And so I think that that’s the other thing to take away.

They could have just cleared that dinosaur and put a new one there, but instead they let people memorialize the dinosaur for several weeks and they’re going to have a welcome home party. And so they could have left it just as is, but instead they’ve allowed themselves to have fun with it. I don’t know if this is a corporate decision, I don’t know if it’s a franchise decision. Who knows, but either way, Sinclair just created an opportunity for itself and for my neighbors to talk about it. But then also for me to tell you guys. 

They really did something incredible. They weren’t afraid to have fun. They weren’t afraid to be weird and they weren’t afraid to harness an accident and use it to their advantage.

So I would challenge you as you’re thinking about your own marketing, what’s something that’s happened that you can harness and create marketing out of it? What’s something that people are already engaging with that you can have fun or get weird with? 

So guys, the invitation is open if this airs before December 18th, you are welcome to come to the Sinclair dinosaur party. I’ll try to go. No promises, but I’ll try to go and see what happens at this party and report back. 

For now. Just remember, don’t be afraid to have fun, get weird and harness those things that you might not have before.

Thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I’m so glad that you have. If you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and want to give us a rating or a review, I promise we will read each and every one of them.

A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done. Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week and I hope you will be too.