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GREAT MOMENTS IN PR HISTORY: LARRY CULPEPPER

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HEY, JUST FOLLOWING UP ON A FOLLOW UP

Dr Pepper - 2016 College Football Roadshow - AdvoCareClassic
IT’S HIS LEGS, THEY’RE JUST DISTURBING LIKE AN ALBINO SPIDER’S
Photo by Peter Larsen/Getty Images for Dr Pepper

The following is a real PR email we received this morning. The name of the sender has been redacted to protect them from humiliation. This is an unnecessary step—PR people, by definition, cannot be humiliated. In fact, this will probably go down in the accounts as “a response”. This is technically true, just like “a gunshot” is a “response” in a home invasion, and “a dog tearing a solid chunk torn out of your ass” is a “response” to jumping over the fence and into the wrong yard.

The email’s text is in italics.

Hope you had a nice weekend.

We did. Almost every favorite in college football lost a game they weren’t supposed to lose, Florida got a step closer to the false hope of a new head coach getting hired, and we got to watch Arkansas throw out a Yeti-sized quarterback against Alabama. That’s about all one can ask for, really.

This is probably just a rote greeting, but joke’s on you! Like someone on the street who said “how you doin’?” and expected a quick return greeting, it’s been thirty-five minutes and we’re just beginning to tell you about how removing wheat from our diet has really opened up new horizons for us emotionally and physically.

You’re gonna have to chew your arm off to escape, Random PR Person. You’re going to have to yell “SMOKE BOMB” and literally throw a smoke bomb to get us to stop telling you how we’re really doing. You’re going to have to die your way out of this, PR Person.

I wanted to reach out again regarding the below.

Okay, plot point revealed: This is not their first email. It’s a general policy that, in a communication environment with larger than a certain number of parties, responding to everything is impossible. This is doubly true if they’re emailing you pitches for things they should otherwise pay for—like advertising, marketing, or some other form of promotion.

That’s fine, and it’s also fine to label them spam and to not reply, because you don’t owe anyone a conversation. This is especially true on the internet, where the person trying to talk to you stands a good chance of being a bot, Russian teen, bored troll, or worse: a PR person trying to get free work out of you.

That’s all fine. But this—

We thought you might be interested, as Dr Pepper’s Larry Culpepper has become such a popular figure over the last few October’s.

Larry Culpepper can eat a claymore. His pasty, knobby knees terrify us. The shorts are those of a disgraced P.E. teacher unable to come within several hundred yards of schools or other buildings containing children. As a character, he represents a fifty-year old man whose sole job is selling beverages at a stadium. The most redeeming feature of Larry Culpepper’s entire character may be this: As it would be impossible to make enough money this way to support a living anywhere, we have to assume he’s selling weed in the stands to make ends meet.

The sole anchor of his personality seems to be an insistence that he invented the college football playoff. If this were a real person, this would be the saddest imaginable single pole to orient an entire personal cosmos around.

As a fictional character, it’s even worse, because fictional characters should have some real depth even in their mundanity, or at least some quirk to their mundanity. Flo from Progressive has range, y’all. She’s been through things. Flo’s been to Bike Week. Flo’s been married to the wrong man. Flo probably, if we’re among friends, might have made a few mistakes with prescription drugs that affected her legal record and personal credit. Flo’s a tree that’s been through a few storms, y’all. She’s complex.

Larry Culpepper’s entire character hinges on the extremely dull fictional claim of coming up with the college football playoff. That’s beyond sad, as coming up with the four-team college football playoff is is the most meager accomplishment imaginable in real life. It would be like claiming you invented running away from a fire, rather than towards, or claiming you invented “not getting stabbed” as a great way to avoid “getting stabbed.” It’s such a mediocre, obvious accomplishment for a real character that no one really goes out of their way to claim it, because literally every other division of football—including the pros—solves their problems this way.

Larry Culpepper looks an unloved relative who dies with $45,000 in credit card debt and without a funeral. We hate him. We hated him on sight, and always will. We don’t know who this character was created for, or why he helps sell anything, or why you’d want to imprison a man forever in the character-jail of Larry Culpepper’s nothingness.

Given that Halloween is celebrated by college football fans in stadiums across the country, your readers may want to know more about these Dr Pepper activations.

Two things about Larry Culpepper being “popular.”

First, this is Dr. Pepper’s Blaise D’Sylva discussing their brand’s spokesperson:

“All the metrics are still very positive on Larry,” D’Sylva said, noting that the company had to hire security to help the character navigate appearances at the championship fan festival. “If you’re at an event, it’s amazing how popular he is."

Second, this is us telling you what we’ve seen when the actual Larry Culpepper is let loose in the wild. People, when confronted with the actual actor actually walking around in Larry Culpepper’s actual work-release costume, generally avoid him like the plague. We hope you don’t ever have to see it, because it will completely shatter any faith you might still have left in free market capitalism. A company pays this man—and pays him handsomely—to wander around in real life dressed as a shambling corporate golem.

And when you see it in real life, all you want to do is flee immediately. We have seen a child pointedly avoid him and shrink to the opposite side of a hotel conference center hallway when he passed. It’s bad, and so much worse than you could imagine in the flesh. We hope that man is making a lot of money to do it, because if Dr. Pepper really had to hire security, it was probably to protect him from people angry he even showed up.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Yes, could you forward all future inquiries to celebrityhottub —at— gmail dot com? Thanks.