First published on The Big Jewel
A simple slice of toast launched my career as a professional Miracle Marketer.
I was peering, bemused, at what appeared to be the toasted visage of my Uncle Frank on a piece of rye, when my wife popped her head over my shoulder and said, “I see it. Like the Shroud of Turin, right?”
That’s when it hit me. I grabbed my coat and drove like a hellcat to my friend Ben’s downtown deli. I raised my toasted rye, triumphantly, for him to inspect.
“Can you see it?” I asked.
He squinted and leaned across the counter for a better look.
“It kind of looks like Donald O’Connor,” he mumbled.
With Ben’s permission, I set up the toast on his deli counter for all to see. A last burst of divine inspiration had me instructing Ben to tell his customers the toast had come from his kitchen.
Ben sold over 500 corn beef on rye sandwiches that weekend.
From the 1999 Arthur Treachers “Loads of Fishes” event, to the “Weeping Michael Jordan” phenomenon at the United Center in Chicago, I have created Miracle Business Promotions since that humble piece of toast launched my career.
Selecting the appropriate subject for a Miracle Marketing campaign is of the utmost importance. You can’t just ask people to fill out a card that says “How was my service? Have you spoken to Jesus lately?” The miracle should be immediately recognizable to customers. The sudden appearance of stigmata could be traumatic to a non-Christian. Apollo crossing the sky in a sun chariot these days would have little to no value. I need to go deep undercover, often posing as an employee in order to subtly poll my client’s customers.
Me: Would you like cream with your coffee, sir?
Customer: Yes, please.
Me: Hey, you catch the 700 Club last night?
Customer: What? No…
Me: Me either. *cough* Praise Allah. *cough*
Customer: What’s that?
Me: Hey, by the way, we have a special on bagels and lox today.
Customer: Really? That sounds good.
Me: Ah ha!
Customer: Ah ha what?
Me: Nothing, sir. I’ll be right back with your breakfast!
Next, it is time to pick the milieu. Burnt toast images are overdone at best (pun intended!) I try and incorporate the business of my client into the Miracle. For instance, if they own a barbershop, I might have an image appear in hair clippings on the floor (Oklahoma City Hair Cuttery, 1996, “Samson Event”).
Miracles also can’t be too fleeting. We had to be very careful not to walk too quickly past the Samson image, or the hair clippings started to shift like the desert sands. Someone trots by in a long skirt, and the next thing you know, Samson looks like Sammy Davis, Jr.
But you also can’t be too obvious about the preservation of your miracle. If your spilled birdseed “happens” to form the image of St. Francis, you don’t want people discovering the seeds have actually been painstakingly glued to the floor. (Wild Bird Center, Maryland, 1997.)
Location is important. Everyone likes a good pilgrimage. But if your business is in the middle of the Utah desert, people are going to think twice before they pack up the kids to visit The John Smith Cactus. Frankly, the Utah desert was probably a bad place to setup that Coffee Beanery franchise in the first place, so I’m not going to take all the responsibility for that flop.
For the most part, I’ve learned to keep things simple. Adding “tears of blood” to a statue or creating a Buddha that actually shakes with laughter will quickly rouse the scientists with all their “tests” and “facts,” and may shut down an event prematurely.
Done right, Miracle Marketing can increase business for a client 1000 fold in the short term, and a good 20% long term. On the other hand, depending on his or her beliefs, it may also damn them for eternity. For that reason, I have some pretty ironclad contracts.
Rewards in this world or the next: that is up to my client to decide. I’m just the man with the vision.