Entrepreneur designs own bailout package
A. G. Newmyer said slapping the slogan “Too Big To Fail” on the front of a pair of men’s underpants was not meant to mock the government bailout packages extended to the financial and automotive sectors.
“I did not do it in any way related to making a political statement of any kind,” said Newmyer, a longtime Washington, D.C. political consultant, who conceived of his risque idea last Thanksgiving and founded Silly Underwear LLC shortly thereafter. “As all of the discussion about too big to fail started to mushroom during the recent economic tsunami, I just kept thinking about the expression and it just occurred to me as a whimsical idea to put it on a pair of underpants and see what happens.”
The underwear retails for $20 and is primarily sold online at SillyUnderwear.com. Newmyer’s story first appeared in a Wall Street Journal blog, after which he said sales increased dramatically. However Newmyer refrained from releasing any sales figures.
“It’s been very very busy,” he said, noting he already sold out of one size. “We certainly can’t afford to advertise so it’s all viral and word of mouth.”
The company recently released a campy promotional video on YouTube that features a young couple in bed, in which the male is fretting about his job security and his girlfriend tries to boost his confidence by giving him some “Too Big To Fail” underwear.
Newmyer even went so far as to send complimentary briefs to President Obama, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers, but hasn’t heard back yet.
Despite the gimmicky nature of Silly Underwear, Newmyer is treating it as a real business that he said has a “very limited” downside and an “enormous” upside, as he only processes orders as they come in and doesn’t carry much in the way of inventory.
“This is a serious for-profit venture that has nothing to do with making fun of the bi-partisan economic policy on saving big institutions,” said Newmyer, a serial entrepreneur who also founded U.S. Fiduciary Advisors and sits on the board of several privately-held companies. “It was just a whimsical idea which I thought could be quite profitable and it turns out I was right.”
The 60-year-old Newmyer said he relies on “younger friends” to help him with the viral marketing and social media promotion. “I don’t live my life in the digital world,” he conceded.
As you might guess, Newmyer said his primary markets are in the political and financial strongholds of Washington and New York respectively. As an interesting aside, Newmyer has observed a telling difference in purchasing habits between the two cities: Washingtonians go for mediums, while New Yorkers favor the larger sizes.
“In New York it’s not just their wallets that are fatter, but their waistlines as well.”