Several years ago, Steve Power-Fardy, 42, was at a Lakers vs. Celtics basketball game when he noticed fans lugging logo-covered brooms as not only a sign of their allegiance but a symbol that their team would "sweep" the series. Power-Fardy thought of a less cumbersome novelty: a small motorized waving device, complete with a team logo, that fans could attach to their baseball caps.
Faster than you can say "Attention, sports fans!" the Los Angeles entrepreneur had a bona fide device and company named Wag & Brag. With the help of a friend in the advertising business, Power-Fardy hired a rep and started spreading the good word about his product.
"Things were moving along until the baseball strike in 1994," Power-Fardy recalls. "I was a real washout that year."
Washed out maybe, but hardly washed up. Power-Fardy overcame his major-league obstacle by continuing to expand his marketing efforts. He attended trade shows and diversified his contacts, sending samples of his product to novelty reps on the college circuit and taking out ads in college sporting newspapers and sporting-goods trade magazines. He now has national distribution for Wag & Brag through the Collegiate Licensing Company in Atlanta.
In 1996, Power-Fardy made one of his wisest promotional moves ever: He sent Wag & Brag samples to a local Los Angeles TV station prior to the big USC vs. UCLA football game. Impressed, the sportscaster displayed the "wavers" prominently on his desk. Power-Fardy also hit a homer with a World Series novelty buyer prior to the 1996 series between the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, leading to a big increase in sales as well as prominent mention in Chop Talk, the official magazine of the Atlanta Braves.
Now that Wag & Brag is online (http://www.wagandbrag.com), Power-Fardy is also drumming up business in sports-related chat rooms. He's expanding into other areas as well, recently selling 25,000 flags to HBO for the promotion of its Saturday night lineup and thousands more to Federal Express for a national sales rally. With 1998 sales at nearly $79,000 and projected 1999 sales of $100,000, Power-Fardy has proven he's definitely got something to brag about.
Julia Miller is a Los Angeles business writer specializing in sales and marketing.