Who is Blair Lyon and why were his Monetate business cards scattered on the street around the Chicago Hilton this week? Here are the bullet points:
- Blair’s Monetate business cards, from Next Day Flyers, were supposed to be delivered to the Chicago Hilton by Fedex on Monday.
- Several hundred of Blair’s cards were spotted on the sidewalk in the vicinity of Wabash and 8th on Monday morning, while Blair was still in Philadelphia.
- By late Monday his cards had been spotted as far north as Jackson and Michigan.
- Nobody who works for Monetate would ever intentionally litter the streets of Chicago or any other city.
So who is Blair and what were his cards doing in the street? Inquiring minds want to know, especially marketing minds, and particularly marketing minds attending IRCE, the Internet Retailer Conference and Exposition at McCormick Place in Chicago this week…So I am interrupting my series of posts about Monetate’s “dynamic trio” of product features to bring you the facts behind the Blair Lyon Business Card Incident.
First of all, who is Blair Lyon? If you’re one of the people who have encountered Blair’s business cards you will know that Blair is Vice President of Marketing for Monetate, the Philadelphia-based provider of testing, targeting, and personalization services for websites.
Blair’s a great guy, an experienced marketer who founded and for many years ran a successful agency. Blair is NOT a litterbug. Yet that is how the saga of Blair’s business cards started, with an email from someone in Chicago bearing this subject: Litterbug. The sender had seen Blair’s cards on the sidewalk and assumed he dumped them there. When Blair read this message he was on a flight to Chicago, so he forwarded it to me. I contacted the sender, who kindly provided further details of what she had seen. Then I contacted the Chicago Hilton and the plot thickened…When the IRCE exhibit hall opened on Tuesday evening a lady approached Blair to say she had seen his card, on the street, and that others were tweeting about it (unfortunately Twitter has been over capacity so often in the last 24 hours that our search for Blair-card-related tweets has failed, so far) .
And as of noon, Wednesday, we still don’t know why Blair’s cards got dumped on the street. Yet we have learned some interesting lessons. For example, the Chicago Hilton likes to be called Hilton Chicago. More importantly, Hilton Chicago received the 2009 Star of the Industry Award in Good Earthkeeping from the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association (IH&LA) for its continued environmental efforts. So we doubt that Hilton Chicago intentionally littered the streets with Blair’s cards.
We also learned that respect for the environment is not only the right way to do business, it can also be quite helpful. For example, the lady who reported our alleged “littering” was favorably impressed when I told her that Monetate’s CEO commutes to the office in an electric car (not a hybrid, a genuine, all-electric plug-in EV). I think that helped to convince her the scattering of Monetate’s cards was an accident and not intentional.
So, to those who thought this might be a marketing ploy we can only say: “Yes, we like to be cutting edge, but NO WAY would we risk our rep on something like that.” And here’s the deal for those who are attending IRCE. If you see one of Blair’s cards littering the sidewalk please pick it up. If you take it to Booth 721, Blair will thank you and give you 3 entries in our iPad drawing, for helping to clean up Chicago’s streets.