Does ice cream really chill shame?


This sign is not really about shame, nor is this post. The sign is in front of an ice cream parlor in an area of town where many students and young adults live. The ice cream parlor is typically filled with young people and their children, and common sense tells us that's the core demographic of this store's customers.

In trying to be clever, the ice cream shop pokes fun at its customers (pun intended). The sign says, "The walk of shame is better with ice cream." Should the meaning of the referenced "walk" escape you, a quick search defines it as

An instance of walking back home on the day after an unplanned casual sexual encounter, typically dressed in the same clothes as the previous evening.
— online dictionary

The sign is clever. Stupid on many levels, but at least a bit clever. But let's remember something about movable type signs - they are not for customers, they are for prospects. Customers know where the ice cream shop sits. Prospects need something to alert them to the goodies inside. 

This sign drives them away, maybe with a smirk and a thought of how silly the ice cream place is, but not with a thought of taking their kids or significant other inside to spend $10. Not just that, but it signals young women that either the manager is judgmental or the place is frequented by women who need ice cream to sooth the pain of shame from last night's hedonistic foray. Is that the best way to encourage customer loyalty? 

Probably not. As signs go, this one fails. 

The shop occupies the corner of Maiden Ln, an ironic twist which, when I inquired inside, was missed by the employees. More surprisingly, none was sure of what a maiden is. 

Shakespeare lamented, "The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue!" The meaning of that phrase also escaped the signers, so I asked a simpler question: "Is the walk of shame crowd buying much ice cream?" 

Again, blank stare. I see a pattern.

Shame tends to backfire when it's heaped upon us by moralizers. Shame is especially unwelcome when the clever shamers are selling us something that is typically thought of as a joyous treat.

Doing the right thing includes saying the right thing, and to do that one must know their customer. The ice cream parlor doesn't.