Do giant inflatable apes really close the sale?

A few Novembers ago, I was driving through Boyertown, PA when I noticed a shop. Actually, I didn’t notice the shop at all. What I did notice was the man out front: a guy wearing a Santa Claus suit, and waving a little American flag. “Man, that place must be pretty desperate for sales,” I thought, and drove on.

Now I live near Houston, and every day as I tool down I-45, I note that nearly every automobile dealer, furniture store and big-box flooring retailer has a giant inflatable figurine on its roof. Most often it’s a King Kong-sized ape, but I’ve seen Godzillas, Santa Clauses, enormous cowboy boots and Dog knows what else. I imagine the various retailers pay a fair amount for rental of these things. My question, or poll, therefore, is: has anyone actually based a purchase on whether or not the shop had a giant ape on its roof? If so, why? I suppose it’s also worth asking the inverse: has anyone ever refused to patronize an establisment that resorts to inflatables apes as sales devices?

If anyone in retail wants to chime in with facts and figures demonstrating the efficacity of ape-etizing their stores, well, that’s fine too.

I assume the hope is to draw your eye, which apparently was successful. While gazing at the incongruous shape of a giant monkey perched atop their building, perhaps your eye will fall to the Honda parked below it. If their graphics person has drawn the price clearly and brightly enough on the windshield, you may think, “Oh, hey, that’s a great price on that Honda. Maybe I’ll stop in for a test drive.” Maybe it solves “eye boredom.” You know how you drive by something every day and don’t really notice it any more?

There is a tax service near me which has Uncle Sam out on the sidewalk in front of it every day for two months prior to the tax due date. For me, it worked in one sense. I drove by there every day and didn’t realize there was a tax service in that building until I asked someone what was up with Uncle Sam. It didn’t get them any more business-- I use Turbo Tax-- but if someone asked me where one was, I’d be able to tell them now.

I guess it depends partly on what’s for sale… bananas? Hard-sided luggage? :slight_smile:

El_Kabong I know exacatly where you mean. I used to work in Boyertown and I asked a similar question of my lunch companions one day. While driving back to work I asked: Has anyone every been driving along, seen a giant ape and said: “You know, I should really stop and get that car I’ve been meaning to buy”? Really, who goes to an auto dealer because there is a giant ape on the roof?

The thing is, this area has some of the most giagantic car dealerships I’ve ever seen. You almost have to wear welder’s goggles to avoid being blinded by the sunlight glinting off the hundreds of shiny grilles out front. I bet these places are visible from low Earth orbit.

I suppose maybe it has something to do with sales managers thinking “well, I gotta be seen to be doing something, and the rental isn’t that much, and hey, it can’t hurt, right?”

What’s really funny is that now you can’t have just plain old giant apes any more, because everyone’s got an ape. Now, to really stand out, the ape has to be pink, or wearing sunglasses and yellow boxer shorts, or something.

Would you buy a bowl of soup at gorilla ramen?

I used to run a Little Caesar’s Pizza place. They sell $5 pizzas.
In the beginning of this promotion, they had to run a lot of commercials to innundate the area (they can, the family that runs the corporation is wealthy).
After a couple years (I believe it was two) of this, the area knew that we had pizza for cheap and that you didn’t even have to order if it was just cheese or cheese and pepperoni (they were ready and waiting).
The problem was “shakerboarding”. They have a kid outside, standing by the road, shaking a plastic sign that says “$5 Hot ‘n’ Ready Pizzas!”.

Having a kid (or kids) go out there and do such a thing was rough on keeping labor costs low.

The corporate peoples said that it worked. It didn’t. I told them time and time again, telling them that it costs a lot of money to do it (when taking the entire corporation into account) and that when the area is innundated, you only need to do it sporadically and to announce new product launches. Doing it sporadically made it seem like the customer was going to re-discover this new bargain that they already knew about. All the bigwigs knew is that they remembered when it first launched and it impacted the sales greatly. I’d point to the sales charts and tell them that I did no shakerboarding last week and that the numbers were virtually identical to the current week’s numbers (barring holidays and other days that would otherwise spike sales). They still didn’t listen. What does a 22 year old know?

Little Ceasar’s sells pizza for 5 dollars?!!!

That’s what the shakerboards say by us.

One of the local car dealers uses a gorilla. It’s a girl gorilla. I know because its pink and has a bikini on.
What I don’t get are the tent sales. Once a year, a car dealer will drive all their inventory to the local 4H fair grounds and sell them over there. Why?

There’s a local car dealer who is famous for being a straight-talking, honest guy. He’s not the most successful dealer, but at least he’s honest. He keeps his prices down by running a simple operation.

He had a radio ad a few years ago saying “You know, everywhere I go I see car dealers with giant monkeys on their roof. I’m not sure why they’re there. Every time I see one, I think to myself, ‘I don’t think I’m going to get a giant monkey.’” He ran another ad about six months later saying, “Last spring I ran an ad that kinda made fun of my competitors putting giant monkeys on their dealerships. I realize it may not have been the most professional statement for me to make, but they bought giant monkeys.

I think the “Giant Gorilla” tactic is useful in that it puts that business in many peoples cognitive map for future reference. While they may not be stopping in there today they will surely remember the place when they are in the market for that particular product/service.
“Hey, I think I’m going to buy a Dodge Hemi.”
“Really, where are you going to buy it?”
“I’ll probably go check out that place on the interstate. You know the one. They always have that giant gorilla out there.”

re. Gorilla Ramen – sure, why not? Even a great ape could prepare a decent bowl of ramen noodle.

Nashville businesses use concrete Gorillas, & Polar Bears, as well.

Some are semi-landmarks.

Yes. Yes, I have. I think apes are way cool. Especially when they’re purple.

I’m joking. Actually, these things are pretty annoying. I had a Caribou Coffee open up across the street from a house I rented a couple of years ago. This damn idiot would jump around Dundee Road making people honk at him. AT SIX IN THE FREAKIN’ MORNING! ON WEEKENDS! I darn near sic’ed my dog on him. Finally, the husband gave him a talking to - the caribou retired shortly thereafter.

Watch out for some of those balloons. They can be killers!

Well, yes. Yes, of course. You mean there are people that don’t do this? There are people who just saunter right into an ape-less place of business and spend their hard-earned money on goods and services that are obviously of inferior quality?

If a business either can’t afford, or doesn’t care enough, to mount an inflatable ape near its entrance, I’ll take my money elsewhere.

Now excuse me, I’ve got to go post in that thread about whether people who are crazy don’t know it.

The one near me has a teenage boy with a CD player and headphones out there dancing all day, dressed up like the Statue of Liberty. When he isn’t there it’s an older black guy with a full beard. I don’t get my taxes done there, but it does make me smile. The boy always waves at me, and I wave back.

Are you sure that they work there? Maybe they are just crazy…

Car dealerships can be a scary place. It’s like walking into the lion’s den. You need someone there to comfort you and tell you that everything is going to be OK.

That, my friend, is the apes’ true purpose.