Blessed be the brands that aren’t afraid to lean into poop content. For example, Take 5, the oil-change company, which today introduces a car-wash service—by dropping a whole pigeon-poop campaign involving a ridiculous mascot, cross-platform ads, and a giveaway across a number of U.S. cities.
The campaign, from agency Erich and Kallman, is called “The Official Pigeon.” And they began by choosing just that—a random pigeon in Dallas to be Take 5’s Official Pigeon, which they outfitted with a GPS tracker and followed around the city.
In particular, they had an eye on which cars the Official Pigeon pooped on. And then they gave those cars free car washes. This video recap explains more:
Asked why they chose this particular pigeon—what was special about it—agency co-founder and creative chief Eric Kallman replied: “Absolutely nothing. We just kind of picked a pigeon, you know?”
It won’t surprise you to learn that keeping eyes on the pigeon at all times was not easy, and that they may have even fudged the results.
“While we actually did attach a tracker to our pigeon for a day, and we did have a tracking team perched atop one of the tallest buildings in Dallas, we learned the hard way that tracking a pigeon in the middle of a city is really, really challenging,” Kallman admitted. “We’re pretty sure some pooped-on cars received coupons that may or may not have been pooped on by the Official Pigeon.”
Even if they had kept up better with the bird, the odds of catching it actually pooping on any car are low. Only a tiny percentage of the surface area of any city is car, after all (though we acknowledge this doesn’t factor in whether pigeons actually aim for cars or not).
“Pigeon experts tell us that a pigeon can poop every 15 minutes,” said Kallman. “And while the Official Pigeon didn’t live up to that level of regularity, we still gave away lots free car washes that day in Dallas.”
One last issue is that the Official Pigeon is clearly a Dallas native and presumably stays close to home. Yet the campaign is also running in Nashville, Denver, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Little Rock, Birmingham, New Orleans and Columbus, Ohio. So, what’s up with that?
“The Official Pigeon started in Dallas, but pigeons can travel hundreds of miles in a single day,” Kallman explained. “Street teams in 11 cities are distributing coupons to cars that have been pooped on. If you’ve got bird poop on your car, it just might be from the Official Pigeon. Check out Take5.com/pigeon to see if you get a free wash.”
Despite the logistical challenges, and general squeamishness many clients have about poop themes, Kallman said there was “no hestitation whatsover” at Take 5 about the creative direction. “The idea needed to be bold, distinct and tonally in line with what we have establish with the Take 5 brand,” he said. “They knew immediately that this was the initiative we needed to produce.”
“We wanted to do something creative to show our appreciation for our customers, while also inviting people to come check us out and experience the Take 5 difference,” said Brady Noon, chief marketing officer at Take 5. “It was important to do it in a way that keeps our brand values and personality at the forefront. Take 5’s Official Pigeon is an unexpected and memorable albeit messy approach, and that’s exactly why we love it.”
March 28 is a perfect launch day—it’s National Car Wash Day. Anyone who visits Take5.com/Pigeon today can redeem a free car wash, while supplies last—whether or not their vehicle was a target.
The creative learnings from the project were unusual yet interesting, Kallman added.
“There’s an entire niche industry of ridiculously lightweight pigeon tracking technology that prioritizes bird wellness. And a surprising amount of pigeon experts in most metropolitan areas across the country,” he said. “Hit us up if you ever need to follow around a pigeon in a large city. We know some folks.”