Thursday, October 15, 2009


A delivery truck was tailgating me on the way into work the other morning. I wasn't driving slowly, yet the truck was right on me. As I peered in my rear view mirror, I swear the driver of the truck was in my back seat. Although my first reaction was to strap him into the carseat, hand him a half eaten PB&J sandwich, and warn him not to kick the back of my chair, I realized that this was just an illusion. The backseat driver that is, not the bag of half-eaten sandwich.

As I do with most tailgaters, I wanted him to eat fender. So, I applied the brakes and slowed down to 75 mph. In most great action stories such as this one, my brakes would promptly fail and we would both go barreling down the highway until one of us jumped off a ramp over the police roadblock and land in a shallow reservoir while the other did victory donuts in a concrete drainage canal . However in this true story, I got off at my exit ("Exit 365. Urban Sprawl / Cubeville") with the rest of the 'muters and stopped at the light. Luke Duke however went whizzing by me towards his own misery.

As the truck passed me, I noticed the large Johnsonville sign on it's side along with a picture of the company's popular sausages. A moment later, I noticed that the back of the truck was displaying the company's current marketing slogan, "Tailgateville". I realize that this is referring to the age old tradition of parking one's car at a sporting event or concert and unloading enough beer, food, and propane tanks to earn the respect of complete strangers.

However, I am also acutely aware that the term "tailgate" also refers to the age old tradition of driving really close to the car in front of you because it might help them get to their destination 30 seconds earlier. If they are really good tailgaters, you can read the print on their "Successful completion of the Offensive Drivers course" certificate proudly hanging on the gun rack.

I always wanted the phrase "of sausage fame" to follow my name, but for now we'll give it to Johnsonville. Their fame has come with their success, which must be the result of very effective marketing campaigns.

I imagined a 30 minute training video in which Mr. Johnsonville IV explains to a classroom full of astute drivers that they play an important role in communicating the "Tailgate" theme. That they must make sure that, as the faithful front line of the company's public image, they get "Tailgate" on America's brains. Other drivers should want to go to "Tailgateville" and eat sausage. How better to transmit this message than to run them off the road into a drainage ditch? In that moment, they might be thinking "BrokenCollarbonesville" or "HopeICanDial911WithMyTonguesville", but subconsciously they will be thinking "Tailgateville". Make sure you don't kick up too much dust, because we want to make sure that the target can see our marketing slogan as you speed away.

As with every training video, the students are reminded that "Sausage is not a style of life. Sausage is a lifestyle." Apparently, so is eating fender.

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