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Teeny-Weeny Wigs

Hilarious Baby Toupees Are a Lesson in 21st- Century
Marketing

By Matt Kettmann

bob2.jpgIf babies are funny and wigs are funny, why
wouldn’t babies wearing wigs be double-funny? That was the question
Santa Barbara’s Graham Farrar, Matt Meyer, and Peter Kyriacou found
themselves pondering a couple years ago when the trio was
brainstorming possible inventions. Specifically, the three were
considering putting Donald Trump’s infamous toupee atop an infant,
so they researched the idea and found no one had capitalized on the
no-brainer. Then they registered babytoupee.com and set about getting
some samples made.

When the samples came in, they took Farrar’s infant daughter
Mia, plopped the mop atop, and, as Farrar said, “Indeed, it was
funny. We laughed, she laughed because we were laughing, and we
laughed back at her.” Knowing they had at least a cute niche hit,
they contacted a manufacturer in China and the wigs were tossed in
motion. Little did they know the craze they were about to
ignite.

samuel1.jpgLast August, the three put up a mini Web
site that said sales would start soon and offered some sneak peeks
at the product. They were fielding about 10 hits per day, and then
a blog picked up their site. They got 800 hits the next day, and 13
more blogs writing about it. That led to nearly 3,000 hits by the
end of August and prompted them to create a more dynamic Web site
that could take orders.

lilkim2.jpgOn September 1, babytoupee.com was on the front page of
yahoo.com, causing 100,000 people to
check out its homepage. From there, the Web site and
products — which currently include wigs à la Trump, Bob Marley,
Lil’ Kim, and Samuel Jackson’s Pulp Fiction jerry curl — have been
on CNN, the Late Show with David Letterman, AOL, MSNBC, The Drudge
Report, Headline News, BBC (three times!), Entertainment Tonight,
Reuters, AP, and so on. While traveling for his day job, Farrar
even heard about his product on a taxicab radio in Paris and on a
hotel room TV in Spain.

“The interesting part,” said Farrar, “is not how cool we are,
but that it shows how the Internet really is a changing force in
business. It’s unbelievable that three guys operating out of a
house in Santa Barbara can literally start a worldwide craze over a
little niche product. It’s way beyond anything we expected.” Farrar
estimated that, thanks to the blogs and subsequent stories,
babytoupee.com got $50 million in free advertising. But he’s not
just attributing the success of the product to the free nods.

donald1.jpg“I think it struck a chord with new
parents,” said Farrar. “As a new parent myself, there is so much
stress about raising kids that people put on you. … But having a
kid is supposed to be fun. You can get on the floor, dress the kid
up, roll around, and have a good time. There are not many things
that say that anymore.” The Web site promotes that fun by hosting a
gallery where parents can post photos of their wig-wearing
kiddies.

With the holiday season approaching, there are a few more
toupees in the works. The company is also planning to expand its
target market beyond the current zero- to nine-month-old infants,
so that kids of older ages can get in on the fun.

“It goes to show that it doesn’t have to be complicated or
revolutionary to be a good business,” said Farrar, a techno wizard
who started his career at software.com and now works at Sonos,
which produces one of the more technologically intricate audio
systems on the market. “All you have to do is make people
smile.”

4•1•1 For more info and to buy a wig, see
babytoupee.com

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