AMP Radio in Calgary, Canada received major backlash after they followed through on a promotion where they burned C$5,000 in cash. The station’s ‘Bank It or Burn It’ stunt asked listeners to vote whether AMP Radio should burn C$5000 or give the money away to a voter who chose the ‘bank it’ option. What the station billed as ‘the ultimate social experiment,’ received thousands of votes via texts, tweets, Facebook, and the station’s app. 54% voted for the station to ‘#BURN’ the money.
In a surprise move to a lot of listeners, AMP Radio went through with burning the money. A YouTube video was posted showing the station’s morning show DJs, Ryan Lindsay and Katie Summers, burning the bills in the Pet Haven Crematorium’s incinerator.
Lindsay explained the station’s reasoning behind the promo saying, “The $5,000 that we, over the course of two weeks, took and have now unfortunately burnt is a fraction of what almost any other entity in this city spends on their marketing costs alone and it’s garnered a lot of talk.” Still, that understandably doesn’t sit well with many.
The marketing ploy received a lot of attention, the majority of which was negative. On social media, Calgarians overwhelmingly chastised the station for their careless waste of money that many feel could have been used in a more positive way. “I think a lot of people thought it was sort of a joke at firstbut they (the station) insisted it was really happening,” Candace Ortiz, a former AMP Radio listener, told CTV News. “I just can’t see myself listening to them anymore because I feel that as a listener, that’s really my only recourse.” Jordan Hamilton, the communication manager for the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre said, “$5,000 is an enormous sum of money. It’s amazing just how far we stretch a dollar. For as little as $5,000, we can change the lives of up to 100 people.”
“We stuck to our word and now we’re getting flack for it. But do you really normally get angry at somebody for doing what they said they were going to do?” Lindsay responded to the outrage of his listeners. “There’s nothing I could have done about that. I can’t say, ‘Well no, I’m not going to do this.’ They’re going to put it in anyway. Somebody is going to do that because that’s what we said we were going to do and we have to go through with it. You’ve said you’re going to do it. You have to do it.”
As noted by CBC News, several Facebook commenters felt that was not a valid excuse for the station’s actions. Rachel Mary wrote, “Just because Calgary said burn it, it didnt mean you should have. If Calgary told you to do meth, would you do it?” One of the few station defenders, @crazycga, sent in the tweet, “To all the people complaining about the cash burning by @ampcalgary ... IT WASN'T YOUR MONEY. You have NO RIGHT to dictate how they use it.” Some commenters thought that the station burning the cash was illegal. However, Canadian law protects only coins from being defaced and not bills.
AMP Radio is now conducting the second phase of the promotion and is in the process of collecting votes to bank or burn C$10,000. Votes collected will once again determine if the thousands in cash is burned or given away.