LAST CALL: Cuban manages Dairy Queen to a royal PR triumph

When the folks at Dairy Queen see a PR opportunity, they're all

over it like chocolate on a dipped cone.



Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban dished up the PR treat of a lifetime

recently when, during one of his frequent rants against the NBA and its

referees, he said he wouldn't hire director of officials Ed Rush to

manage a Dairy Queen.



Here's a cultural lesson for those too urbane to have acquired a taste

for Belt Busters: DQ is usually the first chain restaurant to move into

small-town Texas and serves as a primary gathering place and gossip

hub.



But many franchises have shut down their frying vats in recent

years.



DQ's communications director Dean Peters challenged Cuban to manage a

Dairy Queen for a day to prove how much skill it takes to put that

little curly Q on top of an ice cream cone. The press statement alone

was worth several thousand banana splits. The Dallas Morning News

devoted half its sports front to a DQ product layout, listing what the

$500,000 fine Cuban received would buy (561,797 Dilly Bars, for

example).



Publicity-loving Cuban professed his undying love for Blizzards and

accepted the invitation. Not only did some 1,000 customers line up

outside a Dallas-area DQ to buy burgers from the billionaire, but Today,

ESPN, CNBC and Entertainment Tonight sent crews. Tom Arnold, host of Fox

Sports Net's Best Damn Sports Show Period!, helped out behind the

counter. Peters estimates ad equivalency at $8 million-$10

million, and plans to use the stunt to build PR momentum and sales for

struggling franchises.



As for Cuban, we hope he applies the lesson he learned from DQ to his

relationship with the NBA - if you can't lick 'em, join 'em.



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