When Is Clever Too Clever?

Was the baseball general manager's in-game prostate exam over the top? Only if it didn't serve its purpose of letting men know how quick and painless the exam is.Ever since "man bites dog," we have understood that unusual attracts attention. But when is clever too clever? It's a good question.

Seeing 1,000 Colonel Sanders run around New York City handing out samples, then showing up en bloc at a Yankees game that night is clever. Undergoing a prostate exam while singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch of a minor league baseball game seems, well, too clever by a measure. Or is it?

Myrtle Beach Pelican General Manager Andy Milovich underwent the exam, thankfully while he was in the press box, to promote prostate prevention. He earned national media coverage by showing how easy it is to be examined. You can even sing through it.

The answer to the question of when an idea is too clever for its own good is when the idea attracts attention, but for no good reason.

If 1,000 wandering Colonel Sanders didn't sell any KFC chicken, then it was a clever idea with a small payoff. If the take-me-out-to-the prostate-exam bit caused more men to get tested, then it was clever for a purpose.

Clever events and contests are part of the marketing PR arsenal. But the cleverness must be in service of the purpose and in alignment with the intended audience. 

Coming up with clever ideas and stunts isn't easy. But coming up with clever ideas and stunts that work is definitely hard, but worth the effort.