It’s a time-honored practice in public relations to try and peg a client’s product or service to a trend, a news or a current event, and it can be effective — if it’s done well. In the case of Venom Energy’s release offering a year’s worth of free Venom Energy Drink to the individual who captures the escaped Bronx Zoo cobra, the PR ploy achieves a new low for effective marketing communications through its series of bad puns, strained metaphors and cheesy writing.

From its dopey lede:

Following a dramatic escape from its enclosure on Sunday, the Bronx Zoo’s extremely deadly Egyptian cobra has captured the imagination and slithered into the nightmares of the citizens of New York City. Hoping that it can help bring this fugitive cobra to justice, Venom Energy Drink has offered a year’s supply of free product to the Bronx zoo employee who can find and tame the venomous beast.

To its just-plain silly quote:

“It’s going to take nerves of steel, cat-like reflexes and some really thick gloves, preferably steel mesh,” said Dan Huff, director of marketing for Venom Energy Drink. “So we’re glad the Bronx Zoo’s experts are on the job. Charming and capturing a deadly snake is for experts, but we’ve tried to replicate the adrenaline thrill with our custom energy blend. It’s just the sort of venom you actually want running through your veins.”

The release is a study in how not to write a press release. It aims to be light-hearted, but comes off being light-headed. It strives for clever and comes off as merely clueless.

Perhaps the dumbest line in the release — and it’s not clear whether it’s tongue in cheek or if somebody realized that there could be a liability issue if the potential recipient of 365 bottles of sugar water was snakebit — is this one:

NOTE: Venom Energy Drink is not responsible if, in attempting to capture the snake, you are bitten, poisoned, devoured or die.

I’m sure the writer would suggest that I am humor-challenged and just don’t get it that the release was a joke. I would argue that, by definition, jokes are funny, and by that measure this is neither a joke nor an effective press release.

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