You may have heard that a female comedian sent out a story to the media about her attempt to raise $3 million to pay for a 30-second personal ad during the SuperBowl. The story was covered just about everywhere I turned.

Her idea was to ask people to donate money toward the $3 million price tag. In that 30 seconds she was going to run an ad looking for a man to come into her life.

As of SuperBowl time she had collected only $6,340 – a country mile short of the three mil she was looking for.

So was this just a slimy publicity scam or a brilliant publicity stunt?

I vote for brilliance. Wish I had thought of it (not for me, of course, but for a client).

Everything about it was real. She really is single. She really is looking for a man. I assume that if she got the $3 million she really would have run the ad. That’s all you need for a great publicity stunt.

So what’s a publicity scam? In my opinion, it’s when one or more parts of the story are not real – or downright fraudulent.

One of my favorite books is the autobiography of P.T. Barnum. It’s a great read. But that said, seems to me that Barnum was involved in a bunch of scams, not stunts. The Fiji mermaid,  the Cardiff Giant, Tom Thumb, etc. Barnum knew very well that these were not genuine but presented them as if they were. I’ve always been uncomfortable with that.

So this woman only raised $6340. Now what? She probably got $3 million worth of publicity, boosting her career as a comedian. I’m a big fan of stand up comedians and, frankly, I had never heard of her. Now I have.

She’s donating the $6340 to the United Way (I’d have preferred she donate it to Aunt Mary’s Doghouse, our dog rescue organization!). She’s continuing her media blitz while watching her career rise.

To me, that’s brilliance all wrapped up in one package.

What’s your opinion? Do you think this is a publicity stunt or a publicity scam? Why do you feel the way you do? What other publicity stunts do you know of?

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  1. Gilbert Says:


    I agree with you. This is a publicity stunt. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t raise the $3 million. She did much better with the exposition she is getting from the media in general and from bloggers like you.

    She has put herself in the public eye. What she doe with that visibility is up to her. So, the question is does she have an strategy to capitalize in her 15 minutes of fame?

  2. John Strange Says:

    I agree with you. This is a publicity stunt. She gets a tax write off and puts her self on the map. She should have found a non profit group that was in the news and given the money to them.
    I hope she has a website were she can direct traffic to so she can sale her t-shirts,caps, cd’s

  3. jay Says:

    seems to me it was both.. she figured either way, whatever traction she gets, as long as it’s not negative, she’s a winner… she gets a dude and/ or she gets publicity…seems like she had whomever noticed her sucker punched pretty good

  4. Chris W James Says:

    I think it was a fantastic idea. Either way she wins. From a publicity standpoint, man she’s on the ball! I’m a litlte jealous actually, lol.
    It inspires me to get off my butt and come up with something new and learn from her success.

  5. Gina Parris Says:

    I saw her on Fox and Friends and cheered out loud for her moxie and good humor. You go, Girl!! I told my kids that was how to do it. A+ for acting as her own stunt-girl.

  6. The Public Speaking Training Expert, David Portney Says:

    This is a brilliant publicity stunt and one great lesson for us because she provided exactly the kind of story the media eats up, and whether she gets the $3 million or not, she wins and so does the media.

    Remember the New York restaurant selling some super-expensive omelette?-same ball park, conceptually… there was also that super-expensive martini…

    So, Paul: What do you think her follow-up to this should be so she can wring some more drops out of the orange?

    David Portney

  7. Ana-Marie Says:

    I agree with Paul, it’s a publicity stunt — and it’s one that keeps on giving. There is no way I would have known about her or the stunt, without this blogpost. As the executive director of a nonprofit, I wonder if the United Way has found ways to leverage this beyond being the lucky recipient of a one-time donation.

    Her stunt will live on — I am forwarding this post to my contacts at the United Way Bay Area. I want them to be prepared to prosper if they happen to find themselves in a similar situation!

  8. Yves Marie Danie Says:

    Gosh, darnit!! Rats!!!

    I am soOOOO jealous that I didn’t think of that first.

    I checked out her website to see the connection to the products she was selling and realized that she’s either a publicity genius or a witch, ha.

    Her books and cd line up very nicely with the theme of the stunt. (

    The last brilliant publicity stunt that I remember was when Alex Tew of fame created the site “Sock & Awe”, where players throw their shoes at former President Bush – garnered so much publicity for it- that it was sold on ebay for thousands of dollars.

    See it here: (I had to shorten the link)

    P.S. I also remember a young virgin who sold her virginity and she was the talk of the media.

    P.P.S If you can’t think of how to tie your products/services to something newsworthy….please, please, promise me that you won’t have 8 kids all at once and then try to sell your story for millions to feed ’em? ouch. I know. I know. I’m bad.

    Truth hurts, eh?

  9. John Says:

    Ex-President Bush Gets Job Offer from Hardware Store
    12:40 PM Thu, Feb 05, 2009 | Permalink | Yahoo! Buzz
    Lori Stahl E-mail News tips

    Elliott’s Hardware CEO Kyle R. Walters said there’s no hidden meaning in his open letter to former President George W. Bush, inviting him to be a “greeter” at the company’s Maple Avenue location.

    The letter, published as an ad in today’s Dallas Morning News, features a clip-on nametag bearing only the initial “W.”

    Greeters are typically retirees who direct customers to items in the store and act as chatty goodwill ambassadors.

    “We’re confident that your experience working in your own family business, as well as your skills developed throughout years of meeting with foreign dignitaries would make you an excellent candidate for the position,” Walters wrote in the letter.

    Of course Bush famously dodged flying shoes on one of his last foreign trips, but Walters insisted he’s not dissing the ex-president.

    “We do hope to hear from him,” Walters said.

  10. Nino Says:

    A Great Publicity Stunt and a Scam? Either way I like it.

    The Stunt was very daring and simple!
    I perform Houdini type escapes and get “Stunt” publicity. Daring work that’s Not Simple, but turns into cash bookings. But this chick went all the way with this clever and effective Stunt!

    But let me ask you Paul, would she have been “Black Balled” or marked as a Scammer by the media if she did Press release #2 about something else instead of donating the 6,340 to charity?

    If not, Can’t wait for her Press Release #3!

    Thanks for listening.
    Nino the Magician

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