Monday, March 9, 2009

Right in the Nutz

Is there a customer for absolutely anything, everything you could ever dream up up?

Someone who would part with their hard-earned cash and hand it over in exchange for a product or serve that is beyond ridiculous?

All because of an idea that has you exclaim, "Why didn't I think of that"?

It has happened before.

In 1975, a California ad guy named Gary had one of those brilliant, but wacky ideas that he thought might make millions.

Gary the Ad Guy imported inanimate objects from Rosarito Beach in Baja California, Mexico, swaddling them in packing material before nestling the critters in a small cardboard box. He also threw in a training manual, with instructions on how to properly raise and care for the product.

"Sit" and "stay" were effortless to accomplish. "Roll over" required extra help.

The price point was established at $3.95.

The non-functional product was introduced at an August trade show in San Francisco. A month later, Newsweek magazine ran a half-page story and the Gary the Ad Guy

By October, Gary the Ad Guy was shipping ten thousand of these puppies every month.

The fad lasted about six months.

It made Gary Dahl a millionaire.

And has served as a pot-of-gold pipe dream for would-be entrepreneurs ever since.

The Pet Rock was followed by the Mood Ring.

And now a new contender has stepped up to the plate, making footsteps in the "piece of junk that serves no purpose" business category.

Chillaxing last week at Starbucks, a legacy friend sits down and starts riffing on a marketing story, I can't quite believe.

"My niece has a friend, who has a husband, down in Sackville, who owns a Chevy truck that now owns its own pair of testicles".

Like the Champ, I said "pardon"?

And went straight to Google.

Here is the "down-lo".

Capitalizing upon the association of trucks with machismo, Truck Nutz
are installed at the rear of the vehicle, suspended in full view of motorists, pedestrians, and others willing to take a second look. As for the people of purchase these "accessories", many share a lot in common with the guy down in Sackville, who I am told, enjoys a healthy diet of Brooks & Dunn to go with his shit-kicking boots and shiny belt buckles.

Apparently different colors indicate different, subtle meanings.

Red = Driver is on fire.
Blue = Driver hasn't had any for a while.
Black = Driver ethnicity.
Brass = Driver has got 'em.

Since learning of this story, I also learned many women (surprise, surprise) are far from amused. It is highly unlikely to see the emergence of a female demographic for this product.

It would appear that we do live in a world where any guy who can dream up something this ridiculous, stands to make millions simply because of the demand. There is a crazy enough customer for any whacked-out business idea.

That is the music many people want to hear about the idea of quick and easy dollar. The lottery mentality that dictates one flash of brilliance will have you on easy street. The Pet Rock Myth still lives for those who are more hopeful than hardworking.

Ultimately, these fads are one-hit flukes, and every once in a long while, one of them does hit the jackpot with a business model based on pushing half-assed product out the door with the highest possible profit margin.

Ultimately, these business models based on dirty deeds done dirt cheap, prove not to be sustainable.

Ultimately, the most successful businesses are brands are built more like a long-term marriage, not a one-night stand.

But, that doesn't keep millions of folks from fantasizing.

And only a handful laughing all the way to the bank.

"Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves" ALBERT EINSTEIN

p.s... The late Bon Scott gets the final word on this one.

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