Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Attracting attention is a difficult beast.

Some believe that it doesn't matter how you do it, as long as people are talking about you.

Others worry that there's such a thing as the wrong sort of attention.

What was Scott Campbell thinking when he put up a sign outside his Pell City Fitness gym that read: "Tired of Being Fat and Ugly? Just Be Ugly!"?

Surely he thought it was noticeable. 

After all, Pell City in Alabama -- a little east of Birmingham -- couldn't have seen a sign quite like this before.

And surely Campbell wasn't entirely surprised when the local Sign Enforcement Officer -- now there's a job I wish I'd applied for -- told him to take it down.

But why?

It seems it may have had nothing to do with fat-shaming. Or even ugly-shaming.

Instead, the city told WVTM-TV that the sign was put up without a permit. 

But of course. What else could it have been?

I contacted Campbell for his reaction and will update, should I hear.

He told WVTM that he's had signs up before -- presumably permitless -- and no one had a problem with them.

Now, he's been told all his signs have to come down.

Then again, we're talking about marketing here, so Campbell is presenting himself as the put-upon barbell facing the mighty muscle of local government.

In a Facebook video, Campbell insisted: "I'm not mean-spirited at all." He explained he's a former state trooper and currently in the military.

Of the sign he said: "It's supposed to be a playful jab. It's supposed to an attention-grabber."

That, it is. But so is, well, headbutting a priest in a strip club, some might mutter.

Campbell said that he has his own history with obesity. When he began to work out, he weighed 300 lbs. Moreover, the city manager told the Washington Post: "The City does not object to the content of the sign."

Campbell says he's now been given an extension, and hopes the matter will be resolved.

Still, he's started a GoFundMe page, in which he's trying to crowdsource the paying of any fine that might descend.

He's aiming for $1,000. At the time of writing, he's raised $245.

I have a feeling that his sign might not fly so readily in other parts of America -- and not just because of its size. 

Yet, some would say, the core of advertising is knowing your audience. 

Time will tell if Campbell knows his.

Published on: May 24, 2018