Sometimes one comes across a marketing campaign that lives in that twilight between totally serious and totally whimsical. For instance, losing a cigarette lighter isn't funny. Okay, maybe it is funny if you are one of the growing crowd of e-cigarette fans who aren’t also survivalists.
But the Zippo people say owners of the brand’s iconic lighter are bummed when they lose them. The Zippo has launched a social site so Zippo losers can feel each other's pain. Funny marketing or serious group therapy? "You shall judge" (Launce, “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Act IV, Scene IV, I'm serious.)
The company says it has gotten thousands of messages from people who have lost theirs, and evidently a lot of people have. The 82-year-old Bradford, Pa.-based company, which also owns Ronson lighters and fluid, did a poll that found some 68% of owners around the world have misplaced their flip-top. Zippo says it sells in 160 countries.
So, to stem the tragic tide, the Zippo company has launched www.ShareThePain.com, driving people to, yes, #ShareThePain.
“We’ve been receiving letters, calls and e-mails for decades from Zippo fans sharing their sadness at having lost a cherished lighter,” said David Warfel, global marketing director at Zippo, in a statement. “These run the gamut from matter-of-fact messages about a fisherman dropping his Zippo overboard to heartfelt notes from American war veterans whose military-issued Zippos disappeared during combat.”
A hint that there's some jocularity at play here. The site features one Jax McFlame, a virtual Navy SEAL type Mr. Clean-esque tough-love counselor dubbed "The ultimate Zippo man and all-American tough guy." The one seriously funny element is the splash page video introducing him: He walks over coals, eats poisonous spiders, walks through a frontal ninja assault, sucks the venom from a snake bite and swallows it, moves mountains with his manhood and a boulder with his test#*&%s. He only screams in sorrow when, as natives are lighting him on fire, he realizes that they are doing it with what was formerly his Zippo.
The study into lost items was no joke. The survey, done in January, polled 11,117 people across 10 countries and three continents, with 1,030 Americans surveyed, per the company. The most lost items: pen, money, lighter, car keys, jewelry.
The survey said the average American will spend 54,180 minutes, or 903 hours over the course of their life searching for lost belongings (assuming the average lifespan of around 78 years, should you be so lucky.) Of the respondents who owned and then lost a Zippo lighter, nearly 20% said they were “devastated” upon realizing their lighter was lost.