Wednesday 10 January 2018


We were sitting round a table, all the top sales and marketing folks at S&S, talking about our upcoming show. At the previous show, I had been much impressed by the Word Perfect stand, where they were giving away plastic hats, and everyone wanted one.

Except they didn't. the rubbish bins at the show were overflowing with these useless plastic hats. I mean, what can you do with a plastic hat?

But I liked the idea of a giveaway, and we brainstormed the notion.

It was me that came up with the idea of socks.

The marketing folks thought I was joking. I heard a whisper, "He is joking, isn't he?" No, I wasn't.

Socks are fairly cheap, if bought in volume (we wound up buying 50,000, I think they cost 47p per pair). We had them embroidered with "Dr Solomon" which was our brand name. "But," said one of the marketing people, "you won't be able to see the brand name when you're wearing them". Yes, that was the idea. The recipient wouldn't throw them into the binm because a pair of black socks is always useful. And each time he or she put them on or took them off, we get an advertising hit. And people aren't going to wear something that's blatantly advertising.

What I didn't expect, was some of the outcomes. We were drawing such huge crowds at the stand, I had to devise a way to throw socks a long distance to the audience. One useful property of socks, is that if you get hit in the face by a pair of socks, it doesn't hurt. So I developed the Sock Cannon.

Another unexpected outsome, was the "Dr Solly Salute". This consisted of the lifting of one trouser leg, to show that the you were wearing the socks. And, of course, anyone already wearing the socks, would get another pair. Virtue rewarded.

People still remember the socks. I still wear mine.

I gave a pair of socks to Prince Charles, we were on some committee together, I forget what for.

It was an excellent promotion. I'm surprised that no-one ever copied the idea.


  1. Not sure if kidding in your last sentence.

    But in case anyone isn't aware, other security vendors copied the idea of sock giveaways. Sophos, for instance, has the gall to sell Sophos socks in its online store. And I've also seen McAfee give away socks. In fact, I think they may have been after the socks as well as the engine when they acquired Dr Solomon's.

    FWIW, I've always found these rival socks to be inferior in comparative tests. So no change there then.

  2. Thank, I hadn't heard that Sophos copied the idea, or McAfee.

  3. Guilty Alan - Yes I wore them back in those early days in the city
    Just found an early encyclopaedia (1992)

  4. Keep it, it's a valuable antique!

  5. Dr Solomons socks were amazing.

    As a young salesman at the time I remember following up on a bunch of leads from one of the shows.

    "oh, thanks for the call but I'm not looking for antivirus at the minute, I was just after the socks." :-)

    I went on to help introduce McAfee to the UK, almost like bringing over a red squirrel :-(

    I salute you for one of the most memorable marketing achievements ever.

    We should form a secret cabal of those who remember 'Dr Solomons Socks'

    Thanks you for the memories.....and the socks.

    1. Thanks. I had a lot of uphill persuading the marketing people that this would be a good idea.

      25 years later, people still remember.