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.