You might have noticed that my roundup was mysteriously absent…
Corporate marketing stunts have ruined The Guinness Book Of World Records. I came to this realization after hearing about Arby’s marketing stunt where they filmed a brisket being smoked for 13 hours and played it in its entirety as a commercial in Duluth, Minnesota. This marketing stunt won them the World Record for The Longest TV Commercial, and it really pissed me off.
I think I have a right to be upset. I’ve always held the Guinness Book Of World Records in high esteem. The latest edition was a guaranteed Christmas present in my household. I would spend hours reading about all of the weird and incredible things that people around the world could achieve and dreaming of one day having my name in that book. As far as I was concerned, holding a Guinness World Record was better than getting a Nobel Prize. You saved a bunch of sick kids with your dumb vaccine? Who cares! Come back to me after you’ve been growing your finger nails for 20 years or you learn to squirt milk from your eyes. Then I’ll be impressed.
That’s the reason it upsets me that corporations are allowed to hold records. Guinness World Records are supposed to be unique and impressive. Corporate records are rarely impressive, and usually just involve spending a lot of money on some dumb crap. The 13-hour long brisket commercial wasn’t achieved through any kind of great skill or extreme dedication. They just had enough money to pay a TV station to let them play a commercial for 13 hours. This made me so mad that I started Googling other World Records by large corporations. There are a lot of them and they’re all terrible.
It seems that a lot of companies just put some sort of food in a long line and Guinness calls that a record. Hellmann’s, maker of gross mayonnaise, put 1,500 hot dogs in a line to get the record for The Longest Line Of Hot Dogs. How could Hellmann’s ever manage to buy so much of the cheapest food ever made? Amazing!
Old El Paso, fabricator of stale taco shells, holds the record for The Longest Line Of Tacos. You mean you’re telling me that a company who makes crappy taco ingredients was able to somehow put 1,557 terrible tacos all in a line? What a feat!
The Kuwait Food Company, owner of Hardee’s in Kuwait, put 2,500 nasty Hardee’s hamburger in a line to claim the record for The Longest Line Of Hamburgers. A truly amazing feat would be eating one of those old Hardee’s hamburgers after it’s been sitting out all day in a line. Guinness does have a rule that any large food related records have to be distributed for consumption after all.
Other recently achieved lame corporate records include a movie theater chain’s The Largest Gathering Of People Dressed As Princesses record to coincide with the release of Disney’s Maleficent, a bank’s Fastest Time To Shake 100 Hands record, and a German safari park’s largest fruitcake.
Why would the most trusted world wide source of records ever dignify these record attempts with a place in their book? It’s because Guinness World Records has a marketing division that sells world records to companies. You don’t even have to know what record you want to break. They’ll come up with that for you. All you have to do as a corporation is fork over a dump truck full of cash and they’ll take care of everything else.
“Whatever the size of your organisation and whichever product or service you wish to promote, Guinness World Records can create a record-breaking solution designed to your brand objectives, and budget. ”
Guinness’s staff will come up with a record and guide the company through all the steps needed to help them prepare to successfully break it. The catch is that they still have to be able to break it. If they don’t accomplish what they set out to do then they don’t get the record. That’s the biggest problem with this system. Corporations don’t want to take a huge risk and possibly fail their record attempt. They’re paying big bucks and expect results. Plus, it would be incredibly embarrassing to fail a world record attempt after turning it in to a huge event. This leads to companies going for records that they can’t possibly fail thus defeating the whole purpose of even keeping the records. If it’s not something that’s difficult to achieve then it shouldn’t be noteworthy.
Breaking Guinness World Records must be working because according to Business Week, the revenue from these corporate records is “projected to reach 50 percent by 2015” of the total revenue of the company. One thing is for sure: breaking records definitely gets people talking. It got a lot of news outlets to talk about Arby’s. I wouldn’t have cared about Arby’s selling a new sandwich if it didn’t have the world record attached to it. It got me talking too. Aw man. I’m part of the problem.
Zach Ames is a half-human half-pizza monster of modern science who lives and writes in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @zachlunch