Parking Ticket Geek

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Fake Parking Tickets Selling Hot Wings But Raising Tempers

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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There's a new "parking ticket" controversy heating up in Chicago.

This time, it's not the City of Chicago that's under fire for issuing improper violations, but Wing Stop restaurant in the Wicker Park neighborhood.

Wing Stop, located at 1637 N. Milwaukee Ave.,  has been issuing it's own bright orange "parking tickets" all over the north side of the city to drivers parked on the street and area parking lots.

Wing Stop's "parking tickets" are menus that look strikingly similar to Chicago's more menacing version,  both in design and color scheme. But instead of expensive violations for expired meters and double parking, the restaurant's version has citations listing the restaurant's signature hot wings, sides, drinks and even offers a free order of fries with your ticket.

The "tickets" have had an effect on the drivers who've come across the fliers on their cars. Most people's initial reaction of dread is quickly replaced by either laughter or in many cases, anger.

"Most people like it, others are complaining," admits Wing Stop partner Ramiro Barajas. "One lady wrote us to say 'we lack a clear grasp of marketing.' It's about 75% positive and 25% negative. But they're bringing them in and using them."

"I just did this to make people smile," explains Wing Stop owner Mike Pirozzoli. "I'm not trying to make anybody mad. People with a sense of humor love it. The people mad at me are probably not coming in anyways."

The inspiration for the idea came from a combination of sources. Pirozzoli explains he had seen a similar promotion many years ago and had filed the idea away. But recently with his restaurant's business down, and noting all the controversy surrounding the parking meter lease deal and the increase in parking enforcement, Pirozolli thought a menu designed to look like a parking ticket might catch people's attention.

The flier is convincing enough that it has fooled some people to the point of confusion.

"One lady walked in here to pay the parking ticket," laughed Pirozolli.

"I thought it was genius, brilliant," said David Walano, Vice-President and Media Operations Director for Wicker Park based advertising agency HG Adgroup. "Good advertising is designed to motivate, to move people. It did what it was designed to do--get people to come in. People who clearly didn't understand it got upset. My only issue with it is that our company didn't come up with the idea."

Associate Professor and Director of Advertising Studies at Columbia College,  Kevin Christophersen agrees the flier is indeed creative.

"Although the 'ticket flier' is risky as it may anger possible consumers, it is unique as it creates immediate attention," explained Christophersen. "Wing Stop developed the flier and witnessed an increase in sales. It also generated publicity, although not all positive. Still, I believe the approach is effective, however, this is only a tactic..."

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But not everyone was enamored with Wing Stop's creativity.

Eric Clayton saw the Wing Stop "parking ticket" on his car's windshield and on other cars parked at the Home Depot on North Ave.

"I couldn't believe all those people were driving without removing the parking tickets from their windshields," said Clayton.  "Neither could I believe that Chicago was now policing the Home Depot parking lot and writing up tickets. Upon closer inspection, I found them to be these flyers for Wing Stop...I will never go to Wing Stop, simply because of my fake parking ticket."

Representatives of Malcolm X College and William H. Brown elementary school, along with a host of upset recipients of Wing Stop's ticket menu called to voice their displeasure according to Barjas and Pirozzoli. The Chicago Police Department called the other day to ask the restaurant to stop passing out the fliers as multiple complaints had come into the 14th District headquarters. And the City of Chicago called to discourage the promotion as well.

"Advertising taking the form of parking tickets can be confusing to motorists," explains Chicago Department of Revenue spokesperson Ed Walsh. "Sometimes it generates complaints. As such, we ask businesses to refrain."

In fact, the iconic Chicago parking ticket has been a popular marketing theme in the recent past according to Walsh.

"In the last few years, there have been a handful of similar instances of fliers mimicking parking tickets," says Walsh.  "The DOR usually finds out about the issue when we receive calls from upset motorists."

However, there seems very little the city can do legally to prevent businesses from employing this tactic.

"We do contact businesses in this regard and ask them to refrain from using ads that might confuse motorists or potential customers," says Walsh.  "When we explain the impact the ads have on drivers, businesses to date have voluntarily chosen to abandon the ads."

The Wing Stop's parking ticket does seem to be getting the response the owners had hoped. The flier, according to the owners, has brought in more business and new customers.

"At first I was shocked. I thought 'Oh my God'--a parking ticket," said new Wing Stop patron Cindy Huerta. "I got my free wings and been going there ever since. If it were a basic flier I would have thrown it away. I thought it was really cool."

"I think it's one of the best, funniest ideas I've seen," said Raul Colon, a regular patron of Wing Stop. "It's very creative and intuitive."

"We're getting more return on these fliers than anything we ever did," says Pirozzoli. "This is the best thing we've ever done."

Pirozzoli, who is very sympathetic to the overly ticketed Chicago driver,  is offering freebies and specials to any motorist on the wrong side of a parking violation.

"I've got more parking tickets than you can imagine," said Pirozzoli about the $2000 he owes the city in parking violations. "I can't stand parking tickets."

"Bring in any new parking ticket and get a large 32 oz. drink," says Pirozzoli. "Anyone with a boot on their car, bring in your orange sticker and get five free wings. And Mayor Daley eats free anytime."

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15 Comments

Message from Montie said:

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I think the idea is creative. My only issue is the last time I got a parking ticket years ago, I remember the sticky part took forever to come off of my window. As long as the adhesive isn't as ridiculous as real parking tickets, sounds okay to me.

OrtonIsGreat said:

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The tickets are a great idea, and they actually do not have the sticky stuff on them. I know exactly what you are talking about. And the wings are great. I had never had them before until I got the ticket. I was mad at first because I thought I got a ticket, but when i saw it was a coupon, I was relief, and tried it. I have been going since.

The LustKillers said:

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"The inspiration for the idea came from a combination of sources. Pirozzoli explains he had seen a similar promotion many years ago and had filed the idea away."

Pirozzoli is referring to THE LUSTKILLERS. Sadly he didn't feel thankful... enough to plug us.
THE LUSTKILLERS developed the Fake Chicago Parking Ticket Promotion for Feb 22 2004 at Chicago's Double Door with legendary Detroit Rockers THE ROMANTICS See LustKillers Parking Ticket Artwork at http://c1.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/98/l_fd38b3c92f6342608cf23320e348b1ec.jpg

On the night of the 2/22/04 show, Chicago Police Officers attempted to threaten the band with fines for "forging official city document" the fine was instead reduced to that of littering.

THE LUSTKILLERS continue to perform in Chicago twice a year and have used the Fake Ticket for a solid 5 years now.

SEE YOU AT UNDERGROUND LOUNGE NOV. 18 CHICAGO!
http://c2.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/66/l_ade4ffe8bcc2493883524005bef29c41.jpg

Dennis Byrne said:

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Funny. I'm working up a Chicago Health Department look-a-like notice that I'll slap on the WingStop window: "Closed because of rodent infestation."

amerry said:

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Nicely done.

miasodesign said:

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that's hilarious!

pete6677 said:

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Advertising in the form of flyers on cars ought to be prosecuted as littering, which it is. Businesses should post signs at the entrance to their parking lots (some already do this) saying that solicitation is forbidden and anyone doing this on their premises could be arrested for trespassing.

WingStop, you are scum.

Eric Clayton said:

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Eh, I've calmed down a bit since I first saw these tickets...I just didn't like the initial heart attack they almost gave me. I DO like wings, and the fact that they are giving away free drinks and wings to ticket receivers goes a LONG way to make me consider going in...MMMM! Wings!

Roger said:

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I cannot stand companies that litter by putting flyers on cars. This is even worse for obvious reasons. I will never patronize the WingStop. There is very little the City can do? How about an inspection by the health department every week for a month? There is little chance they would pass every one.

dude said:

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I tossed mine in the street like i do with real tickets.

Joe the Cop said:

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Walking out and seeing that orange sticker on your car instantly drives up the blood pressure, heart rate and overall stress level. Now, if those were coupons for stiff drinks, it might make sense to disguise them as tickets. Wings? No.

Years ago some bright person in our town got the idea to have cops give out some goofy "courtesy" tickets for good driving, with some kind of freebie coupon. People were so wound up at being approached by the police, almost half the time it didn't go that well.

The Parking Ticket Geek said:

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BTW: Thanks to Eric for the tip on this story. It's certainly a heated topic to discuss.

Alex said:

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This is a clever idea and I love Wingstop. When we do see tickets on our windshield, how many of us pray it isn't really there and your vision is just making you see things? So to see that it's not real is a big relief. Even if you won't go Wingstop ever because of this then it doesn't matter because you're still talking about them!

miasodesign said:

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The initial shock wasn't pleasant as I walked to my car and saw the menu on my window. However, this idea has been done a few times and I hate flyers left on my car. Kudos to the TheLustkillers!

bigdog0319 said:

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Like some others here, I hate car flyers. I also hate the waste and litter that results from the printing and inevitable "flyers to the wind" most people take. Also, I eat nothing that had a face, so I'll never visit this establishment. Go vegetarian!

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