I got the idea to make some “joke” remote controls when a friend sent me an email with a funny picture attached. The image displayed a normal TV remote control but the buttons had been Photoshop-ped. Instead of displaying the normal functions on a remote, they now showed functions like “Give Me Sex” and “Agree”. It made me laugh and I thought, “Wow! This could make a great novelty product”.
I tried to track down the person who had created the jpeg but I simply couldn’t. It was most likely some random kid across the world mucking around on his PC. So I went ahead and designed the shape for a plastic remote.
Surprisingly, it took us ages to find a manufacturer for our novelty remote controls. In the end, we found a factory in China that made real remote controls for electronic appliances. He told us that he liked our design so much that he’d offer us a discount if he could use our basic design for his big clients like JVC – without the jokey names on the buttons, of course! We agreed, delighted.
The first novelty remote controls we launched were the CONTROL-A-MAN and the CONTROL-A-WOMAN. These plastic remote controls don’t actually do anything, they just have jokey buttons on them – the CONTROL-A-MAN has buttons like “Propose”, “Talk About Shoes” and “Listen”. And the CONTROL-A-WOMAN has buttons that say “Remove Clothes”, “Forgive” and “Calm Down”.
In over a quarter of a million sales of these, we’ve only had one complaint. A man wrote to me and said: “The CONTROL-A-WOMAN remote control doesn’t work…”. I wrote back and said “Sir, for £3.99 did you really expect her breasts to get bigger?”.
Recently, I met someone who inspired me to come up with the idea for a brand new “novelty remote” to add to the range. A few nights ago, my best friend treated me to a fabulous meal in a posh restaurant. After eating my seared tuna with wasabi dressing, I bumped in to a charming and well-spoken guy called Alan who’d once seen me perform a speech about “creativity in business” – in Beijing of all places.
This man was having dinner with a very glamorous lady and I was introduced to her as “Patricia”.
“Hello Patricia,” I said. “Lovely to meet you. I’m Shed, short for Sheridan.”
“Alan tells me you’ve done lots of interesting things,” Patricia replied.
“Um… Well…” I mumbled. “That’s kind of him. And what do you do?”
“I’m a politician for the opposition,” Patricia said (modestly, as I was to find out). The conversation could have been left there – and might well have been – if I hadn’t whipped out my business card.
Life – and indeed “business” – is all about the people you meet and how you interact with the contacts you make. “Here’s my card Patricia,” I said, and gave her a note of my own currency (Yes, I publish my own currency: the Ego), which also doubles as my business card. She looked at it with a mixture of shock and admiration. It’s not an unusual reaction. “Oh my…” she squealed.
Little did I know it would soon be my turn to be surprised. “I’ve also got a coin to match the note too”, I said, taking one of my “Two Cent” coins from my suit jacket pocket. She took the coin (which shows my head on the front), flipped it over and gasped again. The other side of my coin shows my version of “tails” which is a 3D image of my bum. Luckily, Patricia wasn’t completely horrified. In fact, the coin seemed to take my stock up a notch.
“Here’s my business card,” she said and took out a neat white card printed with a blue crest. It read: “Baroness Rawlings. Opposition Spokesman on International Development and Foreign Affairs.” And in the left hand corner it said, “House Of Lords” with the address.
A Baroness, no less!
Maybe I should have curtsied!?
I was thrilled to meet this Baroness and immediately got to thinking about politicians in general: the perception that the public has of them and how perhaps it would be great if we could control them…
So, after racing home from the restaurant, I immediately mocked up a new concept for a groundbreaking new novelty product – the ‘CONTROL-A-POLITICIAN’.
Well, we can dream, can’t we? I’m not entirely sure whether I should actually manufacture it. Perhaps the market is rather limited. And I’m rather pleased with my practically non-existent complaints history. Something tells me that my customers will be less amused when their CONTROL-A-POLITICIAN fails to “Show expenses” or “Stop bullsh*tting”…
To hear more about Shed Simove’s adventures, check out his book, Ideas Man, available through his website. Or check back next week for the next thrilling instalment.