Archive for the 'Rowdy Buckaroo' Category

I Miss The Rowdy Buckaroo


Rowdy Buckaroo StandingThere was a time in downtown Bellingham when you knew someone had your back. If your lunch, meeting or shopping trip ran long you still had a fighting chance to beat a parking ticket. One man stood for the common drivers of Bellingham – the Rowdy Buckaroo.

The Rowdy Buckaroo would patrol downtown Bellingham in his custom painted van looking for expired parking meters. When an expired meter was found, the Rowdy Buckaroo would pop a Canadian dime into the meter (the meters used to accept Canadian currency) and leave a note that said you had been saved by the Rowdy Buckaroo. He was a downtown Robin Hood protecting the commoners from the “big mean city.” And as you and I both know, people always love to root for an underdog.

The City of Bellingham didn’t take too kindly to the lost income that would have resulted in the payment of the parking tickets had the Rowdy Buckaroo not stepped in, but surprisingly there wasn’t too much of a confrontation. In the end, the Rowdy Buckaroo rode off into the sunset, the parking meters were modified to reject Canadian change and the drivers of downtown Bellingham were left to fend for themselves.

Rowday VanThe Rowdy Buckaroo was the effort of Travis Holland, owner of the Horseshoe Cafe in downtown Bellingham, and was a brilliant piece of out-of-the box marketing that not only benefited Holland’s own business, but the visitors to downtown and the surrounding downtown merchants as well.

There are a few reasons why the Rowdy Buckaroo was such effective marketing. See what inspiration you can take from Holland and apply to marketing your company:

  1. Authenticity
    The Rowdy Buckaroo looked like a rowdy buckaroo – he was a character. And from what I remember, he also sincerely enjoyed saving people from parking tickets.
  2. It didn’t “stink” like marketing.
    Something of value was given to drivers that saved them money and hassle. Drivers weren’t left feeling tricked or even marketed to.
  3. Word-of-mouth
    People told one another their Rowdy Buckaroo stories and news about him and the Horseshoe spread. How could you resist telling someone the story of being saved by the Rowdy Buckaroo?!
  4. Fantastic PR
    Every time a story was written about the Rowdy Buckaroo, Holland’s restaurant would get some press. PR doesn’t have to mean twisting a reporter’s arm to tell your story. Create something interesting/newsworthy to begin with and coverage will often follow.
  5. The Rowdy Buckaroo was fun.
    It was fun watching the Rowdy Buckaroo in action popping dimes into expired meters and leaving notes. The Rowdy Buckaroo was was equal parts entertainment, performance art and marketing.
  6. Fusion
    The Rowdy Buckaroo and his custom vehicle were highly visible. What started initially as a form of marketing in the downtown core actually became infused as a part of the landscape and culture of downtown.
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