“Tina, eat…Eat the food!” and 5 Other Calls To Action

Lee Ziebarth

August 28, 2014

The great Napoleon (Dynamite), uttered these timeless words in his effort to get his pet Llama to eat her dinner. In his forceful approach, which ended with his hurling the homemade casserole on to the ground, Tina did not respond by eating the food, but rather stepped back, staring at Napoleon with no sign of any intention to eat the food.

(This was my same reaction to 7UP Gold, the Flowbee, and John Travolta’s look in Battlefield Earth.)

It’s fairly clear that Napoleon didn’t care whether or not Tina ate the food, he was just trying to fulfill a task. If he did care, Psycology 101 would have informed Napoleon to approach Tina in a more gentle and persuasive way. So would Marketing 101.

Admittedly, sometimes marketing is best when it is strong and blatant like “Just do it”. But there are several other approaches to consider.

Two months ago the world celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the release of Napoleon Dynamite (what, you didn’t?!). So, in light of this classic movie, consider these alternative Call-to-Action’s in your marketing messaging:

1. The Sample:

“Um, hello. Would you like to look like this?”

2. The Heavy Discount:

“For a limited time only, Glamour Shots by Deb are 75% off.”


3. The Giveaway:

“Come down today for your free trial lesson.”


4. The Upsell:

“And here we have some boondoggle keychains; a must have for the seasons fashion.”


5. Asking for Referrals:

“Is there anyone else here? I’m trying to save money for college.”

Bonus – The Direct Call to Action:

“Vote for Pedro!”

Double Bonus – The Direct Call to Action with a Promise:

“Vote for Pedro and all of your wildest dreams will come true.”

Calls to Action, sales promises, marketing messaging, all need to be considered within their scope of audience and offering. But do we ever get a bit lazy, just trying to check off a task completed, that we don’t consider the best approach?  Communication is arguably the foundation of all strong relationships. So should it be in business. Jeffery Gitomer has famously said: “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.”

I would suggest that when our messaging, calls-to-action, and promises are genuine, well conceived, and well delivered our audience will feel the integrity of our brand. The result will be a conversion process that is more natural. And the Napoleon / Tina syndrome will disappear.