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Elon Musks Branded Flamethrower: The Hottest Promotional Product In The World

Elon Musk is a lot of things: genius, billionaire, pioneering entrepreneur, cracker-jack hat salesman. Now, he can add another eye-opening entry to his ever-growing list of impressive epithets – purveyor of the most dangerous (but hella cool, some would say) promotional product in the world.

Last weekend, The Boring Co., of which Musk is CEO, began taking pre-orders for flamethrowers branded with the company name. You read that correctly: flamethrowers.

Through early afternoon Tuesday East Coast time, The Boring Company had reportedly pre-sold about 15,000 flamethrowers – a figure that amounts to approximately $7.5 million in sales.

In announcing the branded flamethrowers, Boring Co. pitched the items as "guaranteed to liven up any party." Indeed, Musk was having fun on Twitter promoting the fire-spewing device. Amid tweets that gave a running tally of the number of pre-orders, Musk inserted funny "pitches" that included "Great for roasting nuts" before adding later, "Obviously, a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely don't buy one...Unless you like fun."

After tweeting that flamethrowers would come in handy in the event of a zombie apocalypse, Musk felt the need to address some scuttlebutt that was making the rounds: "The rumor that I'm secretly creating a zombie apocalypse to generate demand for flamethrowers is completely false," he tweeted, with a chuckle no doubt.

While Musk and Boring Co. were hyping the flamethrower with jokes and humor, not everyone was laughing. Boring Co. is based in California, where rampant wildfires wreaked havoc in 2017, scorching vast tracts of land and claiming lives. In the wake of such tragedy, California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles criticized the flamethrowers, saying they could be a public health hazard. "We've just gone through some catastrophic fires in California," he told The Los Angeles Times. "It's a bad joke."

Still, sales of the flamethrowers were continuing to climb. The same consumer frenzy flashed out during Musk's earlier venture into promotional products with The Boring Company (which incidentally is focused on infrastructure and tunnel construction). Late last year, Musk started selling Boring Co.-branded hats. By mid-December, Boring Co. had sold more than 35,000 of the ball caps, generating $700,000. The LA Times reported this week that Boring Co. has now sold about 50,000 hats.

One thing's for sure, if Musk ever is looking for another new field to enter, he certainly has a future in promotional product sales.

Grumpy Cat Wins Copyright Case

Internet sensation Grumpy Cat, the feline face that launched a thousand memes, just had his day in court – and won. The sour puss was awarded $710,000 in damages in a California copyright case, after a beverage company used the cat's likeness for unauthorized purposes.

Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, has millions of followers on social media, hobnobs with celebrities and even has an animatronic likeness at Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London. Owner Tabatha Bundesen created Grumpy Cat Limited to capitalize on her pet's popularity after her brother posted Tardar Sauce's pic on Reddit, back in 2012. The cat's famous frown is likely caused by feline dwarfism and an under bite.

In 2013, Grenade Beverage, owned by father and son Nick and Paul Sandford, struck a $150,000 deal to market iced "Grumppuccinos," bearing the cat's likeness on the packaging. However, Grenade also began using the Grumpy Cat image on its roasted coffee and on T-shirts, neither of which had been agreed upon, according to the lawsuit.

Grenade filed a countersuit, claiming Grumpy Cat didn't promote the brand as promised in the original deal. However, the jury ultimately sided with the cat.

Grumpy Cat's lawyer, David Jonelis of Lavely & Singer, told TheWrap that this was a precedent-setting case. "It's the first verdict ever rendered in favor of a viral meme," he added. "Memes have rights too."

Imprinted Tees Commemorate Missile Attack

What do you do in the wake of a missile attack scare?

Make cheeky T-shirts to commemorate the event, apparently.

Indeed, a day after Hawaii issued false alarms that a ballistic missile was rocketing toward the state in the Pacific Ocean, a shop in Honolulu began selling tees that ironically acknowledged the scare.

As you can see below, the shirts say, "I Survived the Hawaii Ballistic Missile." The image of the shirts in the shop is courtesy of Alastair Gale, The Wall Street Journal's Japan editor.

The Honolulu store was far from the only retail entity eager to capitalize on the false alarm with T-shirts. A quick Google search revealed similarly themed tees for sale on sites that included Amazon, Redbubble, and Etsy.

As you've probably heard, the missile attack was really no such thing. A worker at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency accidentally issued an alert that a missile was inbound. The message caused pervasive panic, fueled particularly by increased tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Some 40 minutes after the alert went out, Hawaiian officials issued a second message saying that the first message was a false alarm.

Following the jolt, some islanders were clearly ready to dispel the excess nervous energy with a little humor – as evidenced by the T-shirts. It seems there really can be a T-shirt for every occasion these days.

Ice Cream Fit for a Jedi

The force is sweet with this one.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the latest film in the Star Wars pantheon, is set to begin playing in U.S. theaters on December 15. An Everest-sized swell of branded merchandise is expected to support the film. For fans with a sweet tooth, a favorite among the merch could very well be a new Star Wars-branded offering from Ample Hills Creamery.

In a licensed collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm, the Brooklyn, NY-based ice cream maker has created three limited-edition flavors that celebrate Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Inspired by the heroes, villains and enduring themes of the iconic film franchise, the interstellar ice cream is available in a three-pack that includes a specially designed, limited-edition pint of each of the three flavors. If that weren't a sweet enough deal (pun intended), there's also this: Each three-pack ships in a specially designed box with a punch-out X-wing fighter.

Here is Ample Hills' description of the flavors:

  • First Order: A celebration of the monolithic, fierce power of the First Order. Embrace relentless villainy with this salted deep dark chocolate ice cream, made with intense cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate and a dash of powerful espresso.
  • Resistance: A celebration of the spirit and determination of the motley band of resistance fighters, it's a brown sugar and vanilla bean ice cream with a wild assortment of mix-ins: passionate, fiery red velvet ooey gooey butter cake, hard-edged toffee pieces and spirited, hopeful mini-marshmallows.
  • The Force: A celebration of the power and beauty of the Jedi. Bring balance to the Force with the harmony and serenity of this sweet cream ice cream (the light side), but beware the seductive swirls of rich chocolate fudge (the dark side) – an epic conflict set against a galaxy of white and dark chocolate pearls.

We don't think were the only ones whose tummies are grumbling with nerdy anticipation after hearing those descriptions.

Ample Hills says the limited-edition ice cream should be available at least through the end of March 2018, but you might want to act fast. As Bloomberg reported, Ample Hills also made two special ice cream flavors for the 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Light Side and The Dark Side, as the ice cream offerings were called, sold out faster than an A-wing Starfighter.

New Stranger Things Merch Collection Is Off-Beat 80s Nostalgia Perfection

'80s nostalgia and an intoxicatingly dark storyline with elements of sci-fi and horror have earned the Netflix series Stranger Things a loyal – and growing – following of devoted fans.

Now, with season two launching last weekend, Netflix has teamed up with retailer BoxLunch to create a new collection of branded merchandise that seeks to capitalize on the enthusiasm around the show.

Inspired by scenes and '80s-tastic styling cues from the first and current season, BoxLunch and Netflix are offering a capsule collection of apparel, accessories and collectibles, some pieces of which you can see below.

For the uninitiated, Stranger Things is set in the fictional town of Hawkins, IN, in the 1980s. The plot centers on the investigation of a disappearance of a young boy and supernatural events that include a young girl with psychokinetic abilities who helps the missing child's friends in their search for their friend. The second season picks up the story a year after the events of the first season.

If you haven't yet indulged in binge-watching the show, give it a look and you'll see why so many people have done just that. And, why they're so excited about the new merch collection, which includes a Stranger Things Holiday Sweater; Hawkins High Crewneck and Duffle Bag; the '80s-arcade styled Pixel Tee and Merrill's Farm Tee; and three additional shirts that feature imagery from Season Two. Plus, there is a trio of limited-edition Madrid Skateboard decks and a line-up of Funko Pop! vinyl figures.

Just as cool, Strangers Things is spawning ancillary merch opportunities. As the StarTribune reports, fans are going bonkers over the retro purple sweatshirt from the Science Museum of Minnesota that character Dustin wore on the show. Sharp to spot an opportunity, the Science Museum is going to create a line of the imprinted hoodies. It's already using Twitter to encourage folks to sign up for the museum's email list to learn when the sweatshirts are available.

If that weren't enough merch-related fun, there is also this candle holder that's as wonderfully weird as the show itself. It's in the shape of psychokinetic character Eleven – wax bleeds through its nose. Available from Firebox, the candle is expected to be available by mid-December. "Easily the strangest thing we've ever created," says Firebox.

Then, of course, there are these rad Stranger Things-inspired sneakers/trainers from Reebok and BAIT.

What's the takeaway for promotional product distributors? Perhaps this: While you certainly can't rip off Stranger Things, you can tap into the same market current as the show. That's to say, there's a definite appetite for offbeat, retro '80s entertainment and products from both millennials and those in their later 30s and early 40s. When end-buyers target such audiences – particularly in urban areas, at cultural events, product launches, music festivals and the like – engineering a promotion that involves merchandise and messaging that draws on the quirky vintage vibe from the decade of MTV and big hair could be a smart move.

Branded Tees at Center of Beer Feud

Craft beer maker Arrogant Brewing is cleverly promoting its bad boy image and delivering an upper cut to competitors it calls "sellouts" with a new antagonistic promotional campaign that puts branded T-shirts in the spotlight.

With its "Unworthy Beer T-Shirt Amnesty Month" campaign, the Arrogant Brewing team is inviting suds lovers to send them the T-shirts of beer brands that were once independent breweries but have since sold to become part of global beer conglomerates.

Based in Escondido, CA, Arrogant Brewing says it will then either donate the T-shirts to charity or mail them in a show of cheekiness to corporate beer behemoths Heineken International or AB InBev.

In addition, Arrogant Brewing is offering to sell consumers who mail in "sellout" brand shirts an Arrogant Brewing T-Shirt for the reduced cost of $15 – a charge that includes shipping and handling.

To encourage participation, Arrogant Brewing stays in tough-guy character with its marketing of the campaign. Its website thus sets the stage for Unworthy Beer T-Shirt Amnesty Month: "Face it, there are brands out there you used to love. They meant something to you, and you thought they stood for something. And then the rug was pulled out from under you, all for a stinkin' big fat check. What did you get for your fandom? Jack. And now wearing that sellout brand's T-shirt doesn't feel quite so cool does it? Of course not. They're sellouts. That's simple math."

While some will object to the thrust and tone of Arrogant Brewing's campaign, there's no denying that it is a potentially powerful marketing initiative. It taps into the ethos of the brand's core audience, which values drinking the American-made beers of independently owned U.S. breweries; paints competitors in a light that undercuts their credibility with that core audience; strongly promotes its own brand image; and helps stoke sales of its T-shirts.

Unworthy Beer T-Shirt Amnesty Month is the next generation of Arrogant Brewing's "Fizzy Yellow Beer T-Shirt Amnesty Program." That "program allowed those that had recently converted to real beer to turn in their old corporate fizzy yellow beer T-shirts," Arrogant Brewing says.

Despite all the chirping about sellouts, it should be noted that Stone Brewing, Arrogant Brewing's parent company, appears to have some outside capital backing itself. "In 2016, they accepted a $90 million investment from VMG, a venture capital firm that specializes in food and drink investments, although it would seem this minority ownership doesn't currently jeopardize their ability to be labeled as 'craft' beer by the Brewers Association," Paste reports.

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