Much hilarity ensued in the Business Insider office and on Twitter when an email landed in some of our inboxes on Friday, proudly declaring entries for the first annual award show celebrating table tent advertising — “The Tenties” — were about to open.
That’s right “table tent advertising,” advertising that appears atop tables in restaurants, bars, and other award ceremonies. It’s a niche category, to say the least.
The website is bombastic about the power and appeal of table tents. The copy reads more like an impassioned political speech: “This year, we honour the dreamers. The risk takers. The ones who see something more than just a flat surface; they see opportunity. Those who toiled in obscurity, quietly connecting with millions where they eat, sleep and work. They have built business empires. They have championed societal changes. No more shall their efforts be ignored, for today we celebrate those who did it on a table.”
The big gong of the night? “The Grand Tentie.”
Advertising royalty Chuck Porter, chairman of agency CP+B is apparently the “chief juror” of the awards, which are apparently being held at the grand venue of the “Holiday Inn, Ballroom B” in Las Vegas.
It only took a few seconds for us to become suspicious (not least because of the timing, just days before April 1).
So we did a little digging.
The event organisers are apparently “The National Table Tent Advertising Association.” But there’s no information that such an organisation even exists.
We did a little more internet sleuthing and, sure enough, we found that The Tenties was the work of an advertising agency. Step up Minneapolis-based Colle+McVoy, which has worked with brands including Old Navy, Purina, Target, and General Mills.
We asked Colle+McVoy’s executive creative director Eric Husband why it decided to invest so much time and effort in its April Fool’s prank.
Business Insider: What was the thinking behind The Tenties?
Eric Husband: Glad you’re having some fun with it. That’s exactly the thinking behind it: To poke some fun at our industry and ourselves — and have fun while doing it. Sometimes, as an industry, we take ourselves so seriously — especially award shows. So we thought, let’s create one more. But for what? We naturally gravitated toward the table tent — the often-overlooked, understated piece of communication that graces bars, pubs, and food courts everywhere. The table tent is truly the last bastion of captive-audience creativity.
BI: Did Chuck Porter really give his permission to get involved?
EH: Chuck Porter has long been a friend of Colle+McVoy and we’re tied together through our parent company, MDC Partners. We simply told him what we were up to and asked him if we he would be interested in being the fictitious chief juror. He thought the idea was funny and was game for being in on the joke. We thought of Chuck immediately because he’s judged every award show out there, is respected throughout the industry and has a healthy sense of humour.
BI: What were you hoping to achieve? Notoriety? An email subscription list?
EH: Our goal, first and foremost, was to have a little fun during April Fool’s and give the industry a good laugh. We’ve been talking about making this idea for a couple of years now and we decided to run with it this year. We’ve had some genuine admiration from marketers who use table tents as a tool. We respect them, their use of table tents and the tables they rest upon.
BI: Have you received any entries?
[This question was answered by Colle+McVoy’s spokeswoman.]
Since we just launched, there have not been any entries yet. Analytics on our email and social outreach have been good. Funny thing, we’ve had a few inquiries about what a table tent is (one from a digital ad shop in the UK). Not sure what that means.
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