The Anchor of Hope Baptist Church is a fundamentalist church in Canyon, Texas.
Its website reads: "Two things every Christian should never leave home without: their gun and their Bible. One in the left hand, one in the right."
It preaches that one of man’s biggest enemies is alcohol.
Also from its website: "Habakuk 2:15 – Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that putest thy bottle to him and maketh him drunken also, that thou mayest look upon their nakedness."
This church is convinced that "craft" beers are simply alcohol’s latest insidious disguise: "Beer drinkers suffer from an inferiority complex because beer has none of the sophistication of wine, brandy and so forth, while it is equally sinful. So the micro-brewery phenomenon started and the history, culture and science of these brews has fascinated our country. Beer is somehow more respectable now."
But craft-beer drinkers don’t read the church’s website, so it took out a newspaper ad: "CRAFT BEER IS THE DEVIL’S CRAFT.
"Lot drank booze and committed incest – (Genesis 19:30).
"Ben-Haddad drank booze and lost a war – (Kings 20:15).
"The Israelites drank booze and lost their kingdom – (Isaiah 20:15).
"Nabal drank booze and died in a coma – (Samuel 25:36)."
It concluded with an appeal to revoke the licences of the local bars and ban alcohol sales: "Will we sell the youth of Canyon for the profits from booze?"
One local business saw this ad as an opportunity.
The Imperial Taproom is a large gastropub in Canyon, Texas.
It decided the church’s ad could actually be used as a beer coupon.
It offered a dollar off the bill for every customer who brought in a copy of the ad.
It reproduced the ad on its Facebook page with the following copy: "We are offering a dollar off your bill at Imperial Taproom in exchange for the ‘Devil’s Craft’ coupon that was printed in The Canyon News on Sunday. We’ll give you a dollar off for each one you bring in so feel free to bring multiple. Come and enjoy some devilishly good craft beers with us. We’ll see y’all at the Taproom. Cheers."
The Taproom turned the church’s campaign round 180 degrees.
Instead of being a campaign against craft beer, it had become a coupon campaign for craft beer – advertising the Imperial Taproom.
It made the Taproom seem fun, the diametric opposite of the fire and brimstone church.
The church’s ad will get seen and passed around, and a dollar or more off beer becomes a reason to visit the Taproom instead of your regular bar.
The Imperial Taproom’s owners didn’t have to spend a penny on advertising.
They let the church do their advertising for them.
All they had to do was call up the newspapers and TV and let them know about the offer.
Then they got all the free media coverage they could handle.
The Imperial Taproom demonstrated the martial arts way to respond to your competitor’s advertising.
Don’t oppose it, go with it, use its own force to defeat it.
Or, in our language, don’t argue with core non-users of alcohol – they can’t be converted.
Core non-users are the target for the church’s advertising.
Ignore them and only talk to potential customers who are listening in.
Benefit by only targeting the people who can be influenced.
Or, as Napoleon said: "Never interrupt your enemy when he is in the process of making a mistake."
Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three.