You'd figure that after over 200 years of dealing with it, the city of Chicago would know how to deal with winter.
Yet once again last week, in the space of three days, the quagmire named O'Hare airport was closed three times...which is the main reason why my trip to the RAC conference was a relative bust. A vast amount of attendees were held up by the weather, and those who actually made it into Chicago were consumed with how the hell they'll be getting out of there.
None-the-less...I managed to meet two companies that are true soulmates of Surprise central.
The first is called Accessvia, who provide in-store signage and desktop publishing apps to the retail trade. Snore, right?
Wrong. These guys had:
- the best giveaways (including a coloring book that was the best sales-message-disguised-as-entertainment that I've seen in ages),
- the best in-booth promos (two in fact; a coloring contest and photo shoot)
- the best logo (many, in fact; all featuring their black cat mascot)
- the best slogan ("The Eternal Order of Accessvia")
- the coolest CEO (the Richard Branson of printing, Dean A. Sleeper)
- the best use-of-funds (sponsoring Made To Stick author Dan Heath's keynote and book-signing), and
- the best stunt (an Airborne-reminiscent dollar-bill blast to drive home their message that working with them and "money will fall from the sky").
Despite this, they STILL weren't the most outrageous scions of shock at the conference. That honor goes to a tiny Portland, Oregon company called Voodoo Doughnuts, who have generated a tidal wave of media buzz by doing to donuts what Cirque du Soleil did to the circus.
This sure ain't your father's Dunkin' Donuts or Tim Horton's. In addition to some X-rated competitions (check out The Annual Cockfest here), Voodoo Doughnuts also offers live concerts, legal Weddings and real Swahili lessons in their one and onlystore. At the conference, stylish co-founders Kenneth "Cat Daddy" Pogson and Tres Shannon threw down their renowned "Tex-Ass Challenge," where contestants must wolf down a super-sized donut--the equivalent of a half-dozen regular treats--in less than 90 seconds.
The wildness carries onto their all-made-by-hand donut menu as well. My faves include an actual Voodoo Doll donut (which "bleeds" raspberry jam when jabbed with pretzel-stick "pins") and a Bacon-Maple Bar complete with real bacon strips. By the way, they taste good, too.
With offers of expansion and franchises flying fast and furious, one hopes that Cat Daddy and Tres can capitalize on their creative concept without watering down the spirit, originality and oversized gonads that has generated such well-deserved buzz. And such majestic Pow!