SEATTLE -- An out-of-town real-estate company hoped to make a big splash ahead of its launch in Seattle on Wednesday, so it put cutouts of little green pigs all over the region. The plan was to create buzz and online searches that would lead people to discover the firm.
So early Tuesday, its street team scattered 1,500 of the little pigs, from Seattle parks and the University of Washington campus to lifeguard stands, trees and the grass beneath the welcome sign to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. And it set up mysterious "green pig" social-media accounts and a website that would ultimately lead curious people to their company.
But the community response did not go as planned. Initial curiosity by people posting online ("anyone know what these pigs are all about?") quickly turned to disdain.
A city that is famously protective of its park space and upset that the soaring housing market is pricing people out was not pleased that a newcomer was littering the region's green spaces with ads for a company trying to profit off the local real-estate boom.
One popular Reddit post, which made a point of not even wanting to name the company, figured the marketers were checking social media and wanted to send them a message: "You should know that you have read our region wrong. This is not the sort of thing we respond well towards," the poster wrote. "We take our parks very seriously and are so proud of them, that to see them used for free advertising is insulting."
Others were less polite. "Where do you live? We'll be happy to drop them off on your yard for you, along with any other trash we find," one person wrote to the Green Pigs Facebook page the company had set up.
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"Please, go bankrupt," another Facebook commenter wrote.
The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, in support of local real-estate agents, said of the pigs: "I say gather them all up and get them out of town!" Some people posted pictures of themselves doing just that.
A UW professor said she gathered a bunch of them up from around campus and brought them to her lecture to make a point about the legality of removing signs from public property.
Even the city of Seattle took notice. Parks and Recreation Department crews spent the day Tuesday removing the green pigs during normal maintenance rounds, a spokeswoman said.