April 2, 2015

Pet Rock PhotoI just had to comment on the passing of Ad Man Gary Dahl on March 23 at 78. Gary was the man behind the Pet Rock. He died in Southern Oregon (my home base) in Jacksonville, Oregon (I owned a B and B there). For a few frenzied months around Christmas in 1975, Pet Rocks became family members in 1.5 million homes. According to a story in the New York Times, it was a fad that Newsweek later called “one of the most ridiculously successful marketing schemes ever.” Of course, Pet Rocks soon went the way of all fads.

I never met Gary, but I am sure I would have liked him. He was an advertising copywriter when, one night in a bar, he hit on the idea which he meant as a joke. But the concept of a “pet” that required no real commitment was ideal for the self-indulgent ’70s.

As pointed out in the New York Times story, “the genius was in the packaging. Each Pet Rock came in a cardboard carrying case, complete with air holes, tenderly nestled on a bed of excelsior. Mr. Dahl’s droll masterstroke was his accompanying manual on the care, feeding and house training of Pet Rocks.”

One idea, executed brilliantly. How many of us can say we have ever done that? Rest in peace Gary Dahl. And for the rest of us, let’s keep working on finding one idea and executing it brilliantly.

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