Here's one to file under "really bad marketing ideas for your startup": Kitchit, which brings personal chefs into private homes to cook, decided to paper 10,000 San Francisco cars yesterday with "meal tickets" for 25% off their first chef visit. Their strategy to get extra attention for these handbills? Designing them to look just like SFDPT parking tickets. ("Sorry to punk you!" the back of the ticket reads. "We just really wanted you to know about Kitchit.")
Needless to say, the reaction on social media was not a happy one, with drivers telling the company off for making them think they'd gotten real tickets.
.@SF311 Is it legal for a business to put fake ticket ads on my windshield? Seems like unwelcomed litter to me. Not cool, @kitchit— Dave (@dacawa) May 18, 2015
@Kitchit you know what sucks? pissing off potential customers with fake parking tickets. get a new marketing team.— Jim Taugher (@jim_taugher) May 19, 2015
What marketing intern @Kitchit said "HEY let's use everyone's LEAST favorite thing ever and use it as a promo" No. pic.twitter.com/tju6x9vjqA— LP (@laurapolkus) May 19, 2015
"No one cares for flyers anymore. But what if we make them look like parking tickets"-worst #marketing idea @Kitchit pic.twitter.com/HtmL3JeaG9— Jaime (@jaimeqiu) May 18, 2015
@marshallbrendan @kitchit have you received enough negative feedback yet to stop the annoying ticketing promo? Seriously pissing people off.— Dave (@dacawa) May 19, 2015
For their part, Kitchit responded to the annoyed drivers with the same standardized tweet:
@jaimeqiu We didn't mean to alarm you. We just really want you to eat well & save 25% off your next dinner party. Have a great day!— Kitchit (@Kitchit) May 18, 2015
While handbills are technically legal in SF (unless there's a No Handbills sign posted, which is highly unlikely on a car windshield), this strategy could potentially land the company in trouble with the DPT as well, especially given that scams involving fake parking tickets have been a recurring issue in SF. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the Kitchit ticket (left) and a real DPT ticket (right):
We've reached out to both Kitchit and the DPT for comment on the flyers, and will update accordingly.
Update, 1:14 pm: Here's Kitchit's statement on the subject:
This idea was a playful attempt to drive awareness and turn dreaded parking tickets into a ticket to a fun night with friends. Because this was new we didn’t know how people would react. The reaction has been mixed. The rage tweets are well covered in your article but we do have others thinking it was fun, laughed at the idea and plan to use Kitchit this weekend. While it created awareness, Kitchit is about bringing people together through food and having a good time. We’re about creating joy and this campaign fell short by stressing people out. We’re sorry for any trouble this has caused.
For what it's worth, searching "Kitchit" on Twitter yields exactly one positive mention of the promotion (and it's from someone who didn't receive a "ticket.")