It is said that true success in sales--mastery of the art of suctioning cash from suckers--comes from convincing people to trade good money for something they don't need and never really wanted in the first place. That old saw about selling ice to Eskimos? That's a pure distillation of this notion, and the goal of every salesperson out there. A good salesman should be able to sell anything to anyone, right? And no matter what complications they face, the great ones should always be able to come back and make money off willing rubes no matter how often said rubes have been burned.
Chocolate milk and vodka: Because there's no bad idea out there that someone won't charge you good money for.
Two rules of modern business:
1) There really is no such thing as bad publicity.
2) There is no idea out there so bad that someone won't find a way to make a buck off it.
Perfect examples of these two bits of wisdom? The new, defanged Four Loko currently finding its way back to Washington state shelves; and Adult Chocolate Milk, a new alcohol product which has not yet made its way to our fair state, but which, like Godzilla, draws closer with each passing day. Ice to Eskimos indeed.
Let's look at these in order, shall we?
1: There really is no such thing as bad publicity.
We all remember the whole Four Loko panic of months past, don't we? The horror of dumb-as-rocks college students sucking down this caffeinated paint thinner and then (gasp!) getting all drunk and spazzy as four cans of beer and a huge stimulant kicker all hit their system at the same time? Thanks to a bunch of dimwits in Roslyn, Four Loko made national news and, not long after, got itself banned like crazy all over the place. It was decided that mixing alcohol and caffeine was not a good thing, and that pushing premixed alcohol and caffeine on amateur drinkers was even worse, so all sorts of caffeinated alcoholic beverages got the boot from the government.
But did that stop the makers of Four Loko (Phusion Products LLC) from trying to sell their product? Hell, no! Like good salesmen, they rode the wave of (terrible) national publicity their product received, sold every drop of the stuff they could right up until the moment it became actually illegal to do so, then pulled it from the shelves, regrouped, and came back two months later with a new formulation that beat the ban: a stimulant-free version.
Which basically means that they're now a company that sells watermelon-flavored malt liquor, but that's beside the point. What's important here is that the Four Loko name is recognizable. Everyone has heard of this shit. And when you have a product that everyone has heard of, you do whatever it takes to sell it to as many people as possible--even if that means removing the thing that made the Loko loko. According to recent reports, Four Loko has now gone back to the Washington State Liquor Control Board with its new stimulant-free recipe and asked permission to get back in stores. The WSLCB checked out the new formulation and the new labeling and said sure. Which means that you can now buy Four Loko again, albeit without the caffeine. And as we all know, caffeine is really difficult to score here in Washington. . .
2: There is no idea out there so bad that someone won't find a way to make a buck off it.
There are a lot of bad ideas out there. There are a lot of really disgusting things that people do with alcohol.
But that doesn't stop people from wanting to pay good money for, say, the Smoker's Cough (Jagermeister and warm mayonnaise) or the Cement Mixer (Bailey's Irish Cream deliberately curdled with Rose's Lime). And it isn't stopping people from going crazy for Adult Chocolate Milk, which is, essentially, chocolate milk and vodka.
This stuff is already on sale in 19 states. It already has a celebrity spokesperson (the singer Ginuwine) and some big celebrity fans (P. Diddy and one of those ladies from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, because they're really known for their high-class tastes). It even has a jingle and a video!
OK, so it's not much of a jingle and a video, but still.
The company is doing well enough that they've already announced a move into other flavors come May 1--namely Adult Orange Cream, Adult Fruit Punch, and Adult Limeade.
Now if they could only figure a way to get some caffeine into those. . .