The Pet Rock and a Party “Branding Problem”

by Bob Schwartz


If you want to get involved in a drinking game that is certain to end in alcohol poisoning, take a shot each time you hear partisan politicos say that their party has a “branding problem.”

The Pet Rock is one of the most remarkable stories in modern marketing history. In 1975, an ad executive sold a rock in a box as a pet. It was a sensation, and more than 1.5 million were sold. In a matter of months, the phenomenon faded and became a “what were they thinking?” curiosity (though you can still buy a new one).

The rise of the Pet Rock may have been the result of clever marketing. Or maybe it was just life in the mid-1970s. Either way, the precipitous fall was not a marketing issue or a branding problem.

The Pet Rock stopped selling and ultimately became a joke because in the end, it was nothing but a rock.