Triple bypass, anyone? The anti-marketing that burger-lovers, er, relish

Well. While we’re on the subject of heart attacks, here’s about the best example of turning a sales negative into a piece of marketing gold you’ll see this month (Marmite’s long-running love it/hate it campaign is another one in the ouvre).

This ad for the Heart Attack Grill is not the newest video on the block, but as we’ve just discovered it, we thought we’d share it. Because it really is quite magnificent.

It proves that with a highly creative approach, you can very cleverly twist the biggest turn-off aspect of a product into its greatest, tongue-in-cheek, astonishingly effective marketing concept. Or ‘anti-marketing’ concept, as it’s known in the trade.

When founder Jon Basso was interviewed by in 2007 (two years after opening the Arizona-based grill), he hadn’t spent a single dollar on advertising. Instead, he said: "We purposely try to generate controversy, there's no question about that."

He came up with the idea when researching a marketing thesis on fitness. He was originally planning to open a string of health clubs, but after hearing consumer after consumer relishing the guilty details of their ‘diet cheat days’ with gluttonous glee, he realised the Heart Attack Grill could attracte far more attention.

And that it has – gaining international exposure with no advertising budget is no mean feat.

We particularly like the attention to detail of the brand - the way the idea has been expanded and rolled out into all the uniforms and names of products. Staff are ‘doctors’ or ‘nurses’ (ready to tend to your palpitations), burgers come as varying degrees of severity ‘bypasses’ (quadruple bypass being the most ambitious). And the website boasts ‘No filter cigarettes!’

Basso’s advice to wannabe entrepreneurs, reports, is to ‘create controversy’. Of course, you need an idea as well-executed as this to support the debates that will rage over your business. But if you can pull all that off, a little anti-marketing can go a very, very long way.

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