Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Marketing for the Madman

At 30,000 feet above the Atlantic, a startling announcement came over the airline's speaker: "U.S. Customs requires that all passengers change their underwear."

Immediately, Nicholas Graham, CEO of underwear maker Joe Boxer, and his good friend Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, appeared in the front of the plane. They made their way down the aisles, handing out boxer shorts. A fashion show followed, with crew members and passengers sporting new Joe Boxers.

Newspapers around the world reported the event, giving Joe Boxer millions of dollars worth of exposure.

Graham and Branson pulled a similar stunt in Times Square New York. They showed up at 8:00 a.m. to unvail the worlds largest e-mail billboard.

They climbed into a cherry picker and, from above the rush hour crowd, threw down free samples of Joe Boxer underwear. CNN ran the story all day long.

"our events don't have to make sense or be about underwear", says Graham. "But our marketing ideas have to be press-worthy."

He will take the $10,000 stunt over a $60,000 print ad every time.

Graham tirelessly seeks new publicity venues and ideas. Last year, he created a site on the Internet, insisting that it reflect the personality of his company.

He designed a 250 page playland. Users are welcomed by a giant eye. One click takes them to a picture of Graham wrapped in elastic. From there, they can play games or view any of the company's lines.

His site gets 100,00 hits per day.

His ultimate goal: to be more outrageous than his buddy, billionaire Richard Branson. And even bigger.

Extract: Renegades - Success Magazine 2/96

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