David Mayer had a great idea. He developed the Clean Bottle to solve an everyday problem for cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts. Standard sport bottles are almost impossible to clean well, so the Clean Bottle unscrews at both ends, making cleaning and drying easier and prolonging the life of the bottle. Three years, 54 prototypes, and 4 factories later, his product was ready for prime time.
But like most entrepreneurs his marketing budget was limited. So he did what any other small business owner would do:
He built a 7-foot costume replica of his product, flew to France, rented a camper, followed the Tour de France for several weeks, and wearing his Bottle Boy costume "ran" alongside the riders on the last climb of every stage in hopes of scoring some air time.
Watch the video and you'll see why I put the word "ran" in quotation marks.
Okay, maybe not what you or I would have done. But it certainly worked.
Each day he strategically chose where to run in order to get on air for as long as possible, even though doing so meant carrying his costume up and down miles of mountain roads. (The Tour route is typically closed to cars the day before each stage.) He managed to meet Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, the deans of cycling commentary, and each time he appeared on screen they mentioned his product.
Due to Tour de France exposure, online sales went from a handful to over 500 a day. As a result of this and other guerrilla marketing moves, Dave landed a national distributor as well as placement in a chain store.
And he recently left his job as a product line manager for a tech company to run Clean Bottle full time.
While he still slips into his Bottle Boy alter-ego, soon he won't be the only one. "We're making a bunch of costumes and getting them out to people so they can dress up as Bottle Boy at their local races," Dave said. "A lot of people ask to dress up as Bottle Boy, and it's a great way to get them to do the marketing for us."