Spank My Monkey: The Full Story
Spank My Monkey Photo
Anti-Christ of the Hot Rod World Video
The Learning Channel
Dodgy Monkey Media
Is that Fake Rust?
It Looks Like...
Parody and the Law
How You Can Help
Submit a Marketer
The Spank My Monkey/Anti-Christ Marketing Campaign
The Spank My Monkey/Anti-Christ marketing campaign began when the Hotrodders Bulletin Board was spammed with promotional material for a car giveaway at the upcoming SEMA Show, the annual car show put on by SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association. The promotional material had been posted by Dodgy Monkey Media, and it featured Gas Monkey Garage, a fairly well-known hot rod shop. Included in the promotional material was a very odd photograph and a disturbing shop video.
The promotional photograph featured the owner of Gas Monkey Garage, Richard Rawlings, posing in women's thong underwear with his shop manager. The thong underwear was imprinted with the Gas Monkey slogan: "Spank My Monkey", a slang phrase for "Masturbate Me". (For more information, see: Spank My Monkey photograph.)
To make parody comics of the Spank My Monkey photograph, check out The SpankMaker.
The shop video included several shots of scripted "badass" hotrodding activity, including welding without protection, urinating in the street, and drinking and driving. (For more information, see: Anti-Christ of the Hot Rod World video.)
In a particularly notable scene, Richard Rawlings declared that he was "Quickly establishing himself as 'The Anti-Christ of the Hot Rod World'".
To make parody comics of the Anti-Christ of the Hot Rod World video, check out The SpankMaker.
In addition to SEMA, the promotional video had also mentioned Coker Tire and "The Coker Family", and featured an appearance by David Coker, in support of his new company Newstalgia Wheel.
Investigation would demonstrate that the SEMA promotional "giveaway car" was suspiciously similar to vehicles used in other automotive marketing promotions, including the car being "built" for David Coker by Gas Monkey Garage, and the 1931 Ford "RatRod" that had been driven by Richard Rawlings in The Bullrun, a promotional automotive rally. (For more information on The Bullrun, see: The Bullrun.)
The car to be given away at the SEMA Show was a 1931 Ford Rat Rod. This was most likely connected to SEMA's efforts to market to the youth-driven "rat rod" automotive culture, which they had identified as an "emerging youth culture trend" in the "lucrative" youth market. In a September 2006 press release, SEMA encouraged automotive marketers to attend the upcoming SEMA Show, where they could "see up close and in depth what's next for this lucrative market, and get everything you need to take advantage of it".
In light of the "odd" photograph and the offensive shop video, Hotrodders.com appealed to SEMA, Gas Monkey Garage, Coker Tire, and Newstalgia Wheel.
Corky Coker Makes an Appearance
In response to the appeal, Joseph "Corky" Coker would register on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board to defend the Spank My Monkey/Anti-Christ marketing campaign. Corky Coker is the owner of Coker Tire, and the brother of David Coker, who was featured in the Anti-Christ of the Hot Rod World video as a sponsor. Coker also served as SEMA Chairman of the Board from 2003-2005, and was now SEMA's "Immediate Past Chairman", as SEMA keeps their past chairman in an advisory position for two years.
To make parody comics of Corky Coker or SEMA, check out The SpankMaker.
Coker posted publicly in the original SEMA promotional discussion. He attempted to defend the marketing campaign, while simultaneously insisting that he wasn't involved. The forum members were not convinced.
When Coker's explanation was rejected, a "mystery" user registered on the forums, under the username "Man", and posted in the same original SEMA promotion discussion as Coker. "Man" posted the Hotrodders.com forum administrator's full name and town of residence, and, in his user profile, he had claimed to live in the same area as the administrator. Then, "Man" told the Hotrodders.com administrator, "you're jealous because you're not on TV", and advised him to "watch what you say" because it would "come back to bite you", and made veiled threats to his safety.
Hotrodders.com examined the website traffic logs. The log data revealed that "Man" had the same IP address as Corky Coker, and had been posting from the exact same location: Coker Tire headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Faced with the proof, Coker contended that he had not personally registered the fake username and made the veiled threats, although he did concede that it had been done by Coker Tire. However, Coker would not apologize for the deception. He left the Hotrodders Bulletin Board in ill will, referencing a pile of feces on his grandfather's farm. (For more information, see: Corky Coker.)
Coker and SEMA's Public Relations
After the Coker incident, Hotrodders.com appealed to the rest of the SEMA Board of Directors. SEMA refused to discuss the situation, instead dispatching their public relations firm, Freeman/McCue Public Relations, to handle the fiasco. SEMA's response through the public relations firm was only twelve words long: "SEMA has no plan for a car giveaway at the SEMA Show". (For more information, see: SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association.)
Meanwhile, Corky Coker had embarked on a personal publicity campaign to counter the negative effects of his association with the Spank My Monkey/Anti-Christ marketing promotion. Google searches for "Corky Coker" and "Coker Tire" were already turning up evidence of the failed campaign. Within a couple of weeks of the fiasco on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board, the domain name CorkyCoker.com had been registered to Coker Tire, and developed to bolster Coker's damaged reputation. The website put up at CorkyCoker.com included an article that lauded Coker's achievements and praised his character. A copy of the article would also be placed on the Coker Tire website, at http://www.coker.com/corky-coker/corky_coker.html. In addition to the article on CorkyCoker.com, a similar article about Corky Coker would soon appear on Wikipedia, the net's free encyclopedia. The article had been written by a Wikipedia user named "CokerTire", and was heavily biased in favor of Coker. Wikipedia administration would eventually delete the Coker article, as it violated Wikipedia's policy on self-promotion and financial conflict of interest. One Wikipedia editor would remark: "That was one of the most advertisement-toned articles I've ever seen here".
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SEMA had clearly cancelled the car giveaway at the SEMA Show, and the rest of the industry would soon follow suit to distance themselves from the Spank My Monkey/Anti-Christ marketing campaign.
The marketer who had originally spammed the Hotrodders.com forums with the Spank My Monkey photo and the Anti-Christ of the Hot Rod World video was discovered to have posted information about his marketing ventures on other automotive forums. On one such forum, he discussed the video, as well as a relationship to Discovery Communications,, the parent company of The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and The Learning Channel. When the Spank My Monkey/Anti-Christ promotion was publicly released, Gas Monkey Garage was scheduled to appear on upcoming episodes of Overhaulin', a hot rod-themed television show on The Learning Channel.
This was not the first time that marketers in connection with Discovery shows had "visited" the Hotrodders.com forums. However, in light of the offensive choice of promotional material, Hotrodders.com appealed to Discovery Communications.
Discovery wouldn't offer a reasonable explanation for the guerrilla marketing campaign. Specifically, they refused to confirm or deny the existence of a relationship between themselves and the marketer who had originally spammed the Hotrodders.com forums with the Spank My Monkey/Anti-Christ promotion.
However, they would act quickly to cover up any involvement. All episodes of Overhaulin' which featured Gas Monkey Garage were pulled from the air. Shortly thereafter, the logos for Discovery and Overhaulin' would disappear from Gas Monkey Garage's website.
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Like Corky Coker, Discovery would also attempt to use Wikipedia to cover up their involvement. Specifically, Discovery Communications was found to have significantly "re-worked" the Wikipedia entry on The Discovery Channel. Interestingly, one of the edits they made was to remove the reference to Discovery's reputation for employing guerrilla marketing tactics, which had been included in the Wikipedia entry since October of 2005. (For more information, see: The Learning Channel.)
Discovery Tries to Silence Criticism with Baseless Legal Claims
Discovery would also attempt to use false legal claims to chill free speech on SpankMyMarketer.com. A lawyer for Discovery demanded that SpankMyMarketer.com remove the photo of its Board of Directors from The SpankMaker, claiming that it infringes Discovery's copyright, and is used to defame the company. In light of such baseless legal claims being made by such a large corporation, SpankMyMarketer.com requested the assistance of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (the "EFF"). The EFF has graciously offered pro-bono legal representation to SpankMyMarketer.com.
For more information, see SpankMyMarketer.com in the Media.
Discovery Communications Backs Down from Baseless Legal Claims
After being thoroughly embarassed in the press, Discovery Communications has backed down from their baseless legal claims against SpankMyMarketer.com
SpankMyMarketer.com remains online, indefinitely.
Related Information on SpankMyMarketer.com
- Andrews, Stephen (Aug. 20, 2006). Gas Monkey Garage is giving away a Hot Rod -- need your help. Hotrodders Bulletin Board. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/gas-monkey-garage-giving-away-hot-rod-need-your-help-96191.html#post679393.
- Spanking the monkey. UrbanDictionary.com. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=spanking+the+monkey.
- SEMA News Bureau (Sep. 19, 2006). Rebels with Causes. Press release. Retrieved Dec 17, 2006 from http://www.semashow.com/main/main.aspx?id=70173.
- Coker, Corky (Aug. 26, 2006). Gas Monkey Garage is giving away a Hot Rod -- need your help. Hotrodders Bulletin Board. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/gas-monkey-garage-giving-away-hot-rod-need-your-help-96191-11.html#post682189.
- Coker, Corky (Aug. 1, 2006). SEMA Council Summit and Hall of Fame. Coker.com. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://blog.coker.com/index.php/2006/08/01/sema-council-summit-and-hall-of-fame/.
- Coker, Corky (Nov. 7, 2006). SEMA Show 2006! Coker.com. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://blog.coker.com/index.php/2006/11/07/sema-show-2006/.
- Coker Tire (Aug. 28, 2006). Gas Monkey Garage is giving away a Hot Rod -- need your help. Hotrodders Bulletin Board. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/gas-monkey-garage-giving-away-hot-rod-need-your-help-96191-12.html#post682919.
- Hotrodders.com (Aug. 28, 2006). Gas Monkey Garage is giving away a Hot Rod -- need your help. Hotrodders Bulletin Board. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/gas-monkey-garage-giving-away-hot-rod-need-your-help-96191-12.html#post682929.
- Coker, Corky (Aug. 29, 2006). Gas Monkey Garage is giving away a Hot Rod -- need your help. Hotrodders Bulletin Board. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/gas-monkey-garage-giving-away-hot-rod-need-your-help-96191-15.html#post683874.
- Hotrodders.com (Sep. 6, 2006). update on Gas Monkey Garage scandal. Hotrodders Bulletin Board. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/update-gas-monkey-garage-scandal-97414.html#post687882.
- Domain name registration data for CorkyCoker.com. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://who.securepaynet.net/WhoIs.aspx?domain=corkycoker.com&prog_id=261782.
- Corky Coker. CorkyCoker.com. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.corkycoker.com.
- Wikipedia:Conflict of interest. Wikipedia.org. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest
- Mac Davis (Sep. 13, 2006). Wikipedia Help desk/Archive 62. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Help_desk/Archive_62.
- Hotrodders.com (May 17, 2006). re: Wrecks to Riches. Hotrodders Bulletin Board. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/wrecks-riches-87284-6.html#post638928
- Andrews, Stephen (Feb. 2, 2006). Discovery Channel. NobleForums.com. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2006 from http://www.nobleforums.com/showthread.php?t=805.