When I stay in a hotel, the last thing I want to do is think about what the prior occupants may have done in my room, particularly in my bed. The second to last thing I want to do is question whether the sheets are really clean. If I dwell on these topics too long, I can get pretty creeped out. I’d prefer to spend my temporary occupancy in naive oblivion.

Imagine my consternation when, on a recent trip, I found myself looking at the back of an elevator door which commanded, Sleep naked. When I got to my room, I found a follow-up card that told me that the sheets are washed for every guest. Umm…excuse me, but I had always assumed that was the case. Does that mean I have to question it now? I’m already getting the shivers.

I understand what the Hampton–er, the anonymous hotel chain–was trying to do. They wanted me to rest assured (yes, that was a pun) that they’ve got the cleanest sheets around. Unfortunately, they didn’t say it that way. Instead, they told me their sheets were clean while fostering the implication that others’ sheets may not be–and it backfired. I was left with visions of something more untoward than sugarplums dancing in my head.

Maybe I’m overreacting a bit, but let me make a few points. First, if I noticed it, someone else will, too. In fact, the colleague who was traveling with me had a similar reaction. Always consider the downside when launching a campaign. Second, implied scare tactics might garner a sale, but they never build true loyalty. Finally, regardless of whether you find the slogans clever, I’ll bet you wouldn’t want your five-year-old asking about sleeping naked when he sees the sign in the elevator.

Clever does not always equal appropriate. Enough said.

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