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Circuit City Can’t Take a Joke; Pulls MAD Magazine then Crisis Control Kicks in

Zach Epstein
August 5th, 2008 at 5:48 AM

Too funny. Circuit City headquarters recently had a fit when it discovered that the latest issue of MAD Magazine, a publication that it offers in its retail stores, ran a spoof called “Sucker City”. The four-page feature pokes a bit of fun at Circuit City and apparently when some higher ups caught wind of it they were none too happy. Our favorite quote from page one of Mad’s spoof:

Visit our new store on Rt. 17 directly across the street from Best Buy or visit any of our other 600 stores directly across the street from 600 other Best Buys!

Outstanding. As soon as headquarters was notified of the Circuit City spoof, it removed the magazine from inventory systems and issued an official notice to all stores. In a nutshell, the memo stated that all copies of the current issue of MAD should be destroyed immediately and discarded. Shortly after the internal memo was released publicly however, Circuit City PR kicked in and went into crisis control mode. They did a pretty good job actually, issuing a comical public statement and informing the original post author that affected stores would be replacing the magazines on store shelves immediately. Good show fellas. Hit the jump for page one of Mad’s feature, a copy of the internal memo issued by Circuit City headquarters and then the body of the clean up letter.

Hi, Ben,

I spotted the article about Circuit City and MAD Magazine on your site.

fyi, I became aware of this “situation” only this morning, and I have sent a note today to the Editors of MAD Magazine.

Speaking as “an embarrassed corporate PR Guy,” I apologized for the fact that some overly-sensitive souls at our corporate headquarters ordered the removal of the August issue of MAD Magazine from our stores. Please keep in mind that only 40 of our 700 stores sell magazines at all.

The parody of our newspaper ad in the August MAD was very clever. Most of us at Circuit City share a rich sense of humor and irony…but there are occasional temporary lapses.

We apologize for the knee-jerk reaction, and have issued a retraction order; the affected stores are being directed to put the magazines back on sale.

As a gesture of our apology and deep respect for the folks at MAD Magazine, we are creating a cross-departmental task force to study the importance of humor in the corporate workplace and expect the resulting Powerpoint presentation to top out at least 300 pages, chock full of charts, graphs and company action plans.

In addition I have offered to send the MAD Magazine Editor a $20.00 Circuit City Gift Card, toward the purchase of a Nintendo Wii….if he can find one!

All the best,

Jim Babb
Corporate Communications
Circuit City Stores, Inc.
Richmond, VA


Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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