PR Training

What This Classic Joke From ‘Elf’ Can Teach Us About Marketing

Part of my family’s holiday tradition includes watching the movie “Elf.”

You know the part where Buddy the Elf gets excited about the random coffee shop called “World’s Best Cup of Coffee”? Take 20 seconds and watch it again real quick.

It’s funny — but why? They say they’re the world’s best — why wouldn’t that be amazing and worth jumping up and down about? Because it’s obviously just a hollow marketing claim, and even my kids get that joke.

So why do we send out news releases that tout our organizations as “the leading provider of …” or “leading solution of” or any other unverified claims?

Or pitches with empty phrases like “unparalleled luxury” or “world renowned”?

Nothing wrong with making those assertions — if they’re true. So just include the actual facts, not the claims.

Like, instead of “leading provider of MRI machines …,” write, “We sell more MRI machines than any other company.”

Or, instead of “world renowned textiles,” write, “Our website visitors come from 149 countries.”

If you get pushback from clients (external or internal) about excluding hollow marketing claims, then just ask them, “Okay, how do we know that?” And include the proof point along with the claim.

After all, the journalists and bloggers you’re pitching to are certainly more discerning than Buddy the Elf.


Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch”. 

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