September 24, 2006

A marketing director's nightmare

As the owner of three Jeeps, I get catalogs.

Just recently, one arrived from 4WheelDrive Hardware. On the cover, a man in khaki clothing crouched, while a cartoon speech ballon said, "Crickey! Great deals on Aussie lockers & much, much more."

Anyone would recognize the parody of Steve Irwin, "the Crocodile Hunter" -- that is, the late Steve Irwin, who died just as the catalogs had been shipped.


A few days later, an email message arrived.

Because of his popularity, 4 Wheel Drive Hardware chose to parody a likeness of Steve as our spokesperson for finding “Jeeps in the Wild” on the cover of our recent Fall Jeep® Catalog.

Unfortunately, the catalogs that portrayed his likeness were mailed on Friday, September 1st, leaving no time to avoid distribution of our “Jeep Hunter” cover.

We sincerely hope that the family and fans of Steve Irwin will see this parody as a tribute to Steve and the millions of people whose lives he touched.

Really, what else could they do? But what sad, bad timing.

Of course, if you are the Guardian newspaper, you go straight to Australian writer and Second Wave feminist icon Germaine Greer to deconstruct Steve Irwin as merely a successful example of Australian machismo--and, perhaps more rightly--not enough of a fighter for habitat where animals might live outside of zoos.

The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing 10 times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn.

I don't buy the idea that there is an "animal world" that self-consciously "takes revenge," but you can put Greer in the negative column of the postmortem discussion on Irwin's legacy.

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