While rummaging through my old junk drawer, I came across one of my prize possessions: a ballpoint pen that writes upside down and was endorsed by NASA. In 1965, it was the must-have accessory of the times. Not only could you use it to write letters while lying in bed, you could draft a note in zero gravity, on greasy paper in a wide variety of temperatures – all while submerged underwater.
For the life of me, I can’t think of a single instance when I’ve cursed to myself, “Dang, I wish I had a pen that wrote upside down, underwater and on greasy paper.” But, it probably would come in handy if I was ever buried alive in a coffin or needed to scribble a note to my editor explaining that this week’s column would be late because I just drove off a bridge and was presently lying underwater at the bottom of a lake.
Since that time, clever marketing pros have come up with thousands of ways to enrich the quality of every day products. In 1974, the suave actor Ricardo Montalban became famous by pitching the 1974 Chrysler Cordoba with soft, Corinthian leather. It’s a mystery how the tiny Greek city got caught up in supplying upholstery to over-priced, American sedans, when if fact, the seats were actually covered with American cowhide and vinyl products from a plant outside of Newark, New Jersey. But, it worked.