Do you remember the Pet Rock or maybe you don’t, because you were too young or not even born yet. Well, last week inventor of the Pet Rock Gary Dahl died at the age of 78.
For a mere three dollars and 95 cents, you could buy … a rock — a plain, ordinary, egg-shaped rock of the kind one could dig up in almost any backyard virtually made Mr. Dahl a millionaire practically overnight
The wonder of it was, for a few frenzied months in 1975, more than a million consumers did, becoming the proud if slightly abashed owners of Pet Rocks, the fad that Newsweek later called “one of the most ridiculously successful marketing schemes ever.”
Each Pet Rock came in a cardboard carrying case, complete with air holes, tenderly nestled on a bed of excelsior. Mr. Dahl’s droll masterstroke was his accompanying manual on the care, feeding and house training of Pet Rocks.
“If, when you remove the rock from its box it appears to be excited, place it on some old newspapers,” the manual read. “The rock will know what the paper is for and will require no further instruction. It will remain on the paper until you remove it.”
Pet Rocks hit the marketplace in time for Christmas 1975. They were soon featured on “The Tonight Show” and in a blizzard of newspaper articles. In a matter of months, some 1.5 million rocks were sold.
A rock, just a rock with eyes….marketing genius.