You may or may not be old enough to remember the pet rock craze of the 1970s.
Since I wasn’t born until the next decade, I’ve only ever heard of it. I never saw one of these epic creatures on my own. Only through photographs and the mental pictures painted from tales of old.
In case you’re even younger than me – and therefore have no idea what I’m talking about – consider the following writeup. It comes courtesy of BCBusiness.com, which published a list of the “9 Dumbest Fads Ever to Make Money.”
Here’s what it wrote about the pet rock, which emerged as the perfect gift in 1975:
Did It Make Money? My Pet Rock sold for $3.95, and creator Gary Dahl unloaded more than five million of the igneous invertebrates in six months. He walked away with a cool $15 million.
How Dumb Was It? That depends on your appetite for absurdity. Dahl imported the rocks from Mexico, packaged them in a cardboard box that mimicked a pet carrier – complete with air holes and a bed of straw – and included a 32-page pet training manual with tips and tricks on how to train your new pet to “sit,” “stay,” and “attack.”
That last bit begs some further investigation.
I seriously need to get my hands on a copy of that My Pet Rock manual. And it’s for one reason and one reason only: to see how in the world anyone can write a 32-page pet-training booklet about a rock.
A non-sentient, unresponsive rock.
Until I see it for myself – and perhaps even after – I remain impressed with that accomplishment. Because that must have taken some serious creativity and writing skills.
As much as I’d love to take on the challenge, I simply do not have the time right now to try writing such a work of pointless, needless art myself. Though I can relate to having to write really stupid copy for supposedly profitable reasons.
It can be frustrating when you get an assignment to compose an article or blog post – or manual – that requires such a far-out perspective.
However, as My Pet Rock proves, it can be done. Quite possibly with the tips you’ll find below.
Here’s your first tip: Start out with a personal or otherwise engaging story.
In the case of the pet rock, you could begin by talking about a very busy person. Someone who craves the companionship of a pet but doesn’t have the time necessary to properly care for one. They work too much or they travel too much or whatnot.
That can fill up paragraphs… perhaps even a page or two. It all depends on how creatively compelling you can be.
Here’s your second tip: Use lots of adjectives, adverbs and otherwise unnecessary language. The more you bulk up your sentences, the more you bulk up your copy. So don’t just say “My Pet Rock” when describing the product. Say “Your lovable, dependable pet rock.”
Admittedly, you do have to balance those adjectives, adverbs and otherwise unnecessary language out appropriately. Too much of it is going to ruin your copy. But, when carefully applied, this trick can sound passionate about the product, even if it’s truly nothing more than long-winded.
And then your third tip: Find out the margins you’re going to be working with. Then make sure to push as many paragraphs as possible one word over those column-specific boundaries. In essence, ensure that every paragraph drops down one more line because it won’t fit otherwise.
Last but not least, if you ever do find a My Pet Rock manual, send it my way. I really, really want to read it.