Sky Cafe squirrel feeder“No beak, no feathers, no service.” – slogan on Squirrel line of t-shirts by Arundale

If you’re a gardener or bird-lover, all I probably need to do is mention the word “squirrel” to elicit a string of epithets.

Those cute but destructive little furr-balls are responsible for millions of destroyed gardens, vandalized bird-feeders and lost tempers.

So what has Arundale (a company out of St. Louis, MO) done about it?

They’ve created the Sky Cafe — the Fort Knox of Bird Feeders.

Now, that’s a clever slogan. Why? It uses a metaphor to compare its UNFAMILIAR product to something with which we’re FAMILIAR and FOND so we instantly get and want what they’ve got.

Arundale wasn’t content to stop there.

They’ve created an entire line of novelty t-shirts, posters, and mugs with dressed-up squirrels and clever sayings such as:

“Will work for seed.” (Down-on-his-luck squirrel with a sign)

“Hand over the seed and no one will get hurt.” (Squirrel dressed as a bandit)

“Dancing with squirrels.” (Kevin Costner look-alike on a squirrel-populated movie poster)

“E = mcSquirrel (a squirrel with an Eisntein hair-do)

“Got seed?” (playing off the famous “Got Milk?” ads)

So, what’s the point? I discovered these laugh-out-loud posters while casually strolling down the main street of historical downtown Roanoke, Virginia. I was checking out the booths of its Saturday morning Farmers Market, sampling and buying ripe vegetables and fruits that tasted as if they were actually grown on trees and in the earth as opposed to the artificial, mass-produced stuff we buy in stores.

I was so intrigued by the posters displayed on the Agnew Seed Store window, I walked in and talked with Patricia Agnew, one of the owners. This establishment, (established in 1897) is like walking back into time. Walls of little wooden drawers, full of pumpkin seeds, gladiola seeds, snap dragon seeds, tomato seeds, you name it.

Juxtaposed with this “catch-it-while-you-can” walk down memory lane is one of the most dramatic examples of marketing genius I’ve seen recently. A prominently-displayed section of Arundale’s squirrel-related products. This 110 year old seed store is staying open in the 21st century not due to sales of rakes, gardening gloves and seeds, but due to the brisk sales of these novelty items that bring in thousands of dollars a month.

That’s the power of a clever marketing campaign. Sales of this novelty line actually exceed sales of the original product.

Think about your marketing campaign. How can you re-work it so it gets a smile and a sale? How can you make it more funny so you’re laughing all the way to the bank?