Did you know that gold smelts at 1,943 degrees F? I did!


I’m a firm believer in taking the time to research a topic — any topic — that interests me. In detail. Right then and there. (Client deadlines notwithstanding, of course.) Yessir, chasing that odd rabbit down the old rabbit hole makes me a more learned, inspired, well-rounded person and writer. Allow me to demonstrate.


The other day, when I was doing totally legit client research online, I stumbled upon an article about a police officer in Asheville, North Carolina, who was called to shut down a neighborhood slip-n-slide party. Naturally, the cop was like (and I’m paraphrasing here), “No way, Slip ‘N Slides are awesome!” and joined in the fun. That got me thinking about the genius behind the Slip ‘N Slide, so I looked it up.


Turns out Wham-O — an American toy company created by two bored, disgruntled college grads in 1945 — developed the Slip ‘N Slide, along with a bunch of other summertime staples, including the hula hoop, frisbee, silly string and hacky sack. P.S. One of the founders’ nickname was “Spud.” So. You know. Of course he started a toy company.


Anyhoo, Wham-O encourages inventors to submit ideas for new toys, which reminded me of the board game my little sister and I made up in the basement one long, humid summer afternoon in 1993. We took all the games with missing pieces from the closet, mixed everything together and created “The Fun Game.” (Real original name, huh? This was obviously before I became a copywriter.) I can’t remember exactly how it worked, but I’m pretty sure the murderer was Mr. Monopoly in the Peppermint Forest with the Mouse Trap. Also, there were Uno cards.


Produced in 1963, Mouse Trap was fashioned to resemble the whimsical contraptions of Rube Goldberg, an American artist, sculptor, inventor, engineer and author, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartoons during WWII. He was the first president of the National Cartoonists Society, and from what I can tell, he was a pretty upstanding guy. I could explain what a Rube Goldberg machine is, or you could just watch the Ok Go music video for This Too Shall Pass. (Seriously, if you click on nothing else in this article, click on this. Everybody loves a good Rube Goldberg machine.)


Ok Go is a band originally from Chicago. Nice Midwestern boys. You may remember them from the deceptively simple treadmill music video that catapulted them to international fame. In fact, all their music videos are incredible, each more elaborate than the last. There’s one in which they drive a huge obstacle course wearing helmets that aren’t dorky at all. It’s called Needing/Getting.


So…obstacle courses…obstacle courses…. That little nugget of inspiration lodged itself in my brain, just waiting to pop out and be useful. Then one day, while brainstorming for Kemin (our animal nutrition and health supplement client), I pitched this idea: What if, for an interactive trade show demonstration, we had a giant inflatable intestine filled with “bacteria” and “parasites” (a.k.a. obstacles) that Kemin products (a.k.a. participants) could overcome?!?!


Now, whether or not Kemin wants to encourage potential customers to explore the insides of a pig’s gut remains to be seen, but as far as brainstorming goes, it’s not a bad idea. It ticks all the boxes: Engaging. Creative. On-message. It perfectly illustrates the obstacles Kemin customers face while demonstrating how Kemin products can help. To me, that’s advertising gold (which smelts at 1,943 degrees F — I looked it up).


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