Pet Rocks

In 1975, Gary Dahl, a freelance copywriter, bought several smooth Mexican beach stones and began selling them in the United States as “pet rocks.”  But what was initially meant as a joke soon became what Newsweek called “one of the most ridiculously successful marketing schemes ever.”

Within a few months, Dahl had sold over 1.5 million rocks. He was a guest on The Tonight Show, and at one point Gary was selling approximately 6,000 rocks per day.

The reason for his success was largely due to marketing: every pet rock came in a carrying case (with air holes), nestled on a bed of straw. Additionally, the purchase of a pet rock also bought its new owner a manual on the care, feeding, and house training of their new pet. Other factors, especially processes, were of very little importance in driving this pet trend.