Marketing Your Angst


People these days are taking their setbacks in stride and learning to profit from them. Imperfection, as it turns out, is highly marketable.

What if you were commonly mistaken for a movie star—that would be good, right? And what if that movie star was “schlub” Seth Rogen of Superbad and Knocked Up fame? Well, of course you would play up your physical resemblance, go on TV to talk about it and sell a book. Don’t get too excited; that trail has already been blazed… Learn from these two successful pioneers:

BOOK: “From Schlub To Stud: How to Embrace Your Inner Mensch and Conquer the Big City” by Max Gross

INSPIRATION: New York Post reporter Max Gross found a bizarre brand of recognition after the movie Knocked Up hit screens around the country. You see, the self-proclaimed former “schlub” bears a striking resemblance to actor Seth Rogen—a fortunate comparison that has “vastly improved” Gross’ sex life. Women regularly approach the writer, assuming he is actually Rogen.

LEVEL OF SUCCESS: Intermediate. A book deal is always impressive, and it only took him three months to write it. So conceivably when women realize he is not a famous Hollywood actor, he can cushion the blow by reminding them he is the author of a hilarious book.

MARKETING LESSONS LEARNED: Nothing is off limits. Physical appearances are fair game when it comes to monetizing your imperfections. Some may find being compared to Seth Rogen annoying, or even rude, but Gross found a way to cash in.

BOOK & WEBSITE: “F My Life” by Maxime Valette, Guillaume Passaglia, and Didier Guedj

INSPIRATION: Uber-popular web site is an online sounding board where users can submit tales of everyday misfortune and woe. Some are just cringe-worthy, but others are unintentionally hilarious: “Today, I just came back from the vet. I spent a lot of money on a pet tortoise at the local pet store and it didn't come out of its shell when I bought it. The owner just said it sleeps in the day and it'll be shy for a week or so. Turns out it was dead. FML.”  (In case you were wondering, the F stands for a often used four letter word which decorum prevents us from posting…)

LEVEL OF SUCCESS: Major. is popular all over the world and the book version is selling briskly. Alan Holding, a member of the site’s staff in France, told MainStreet the book is already into its third pressing.

MARKETING LESSONS LEARNED: If it’s fun, do it—the money will come later on. Reinvest what you make to grow awareness your quirky brand even further. Holding says that despite the book’s success, they are “not after the big bucks, so any revenue generated is injected back into the running of the site. Most of the people working on the website have other parallel occupations, so it's more a fruit of love than a main source of income. We enjoy what we do, and we hope that the people visiting the site enjoy it as much as we do.”

(Interested in reading about other unusual marketing trailblazers? Check out this story on post-rapture pet care)

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