How to make counterfeit saddleback leather bag

Bag Designer Uses Video To Teach Counterfeiters

Saddleback leather founder Dave Munson is using YouTube to teach counterfeiters how to knock off his bags. The video is instructional, persuasive,  sarcastic and funny. By showing how counterfeiters do and can save money (using lower quality leather, cheap stitching, inferior metal buckles), Saddleback manages to fortify its own high price point. The clip also communicates the company’s ethics and create a storybook villain out of faceless leather-bag counterfeiters.

saddleback youtube


Saddleback has only posted a few dozen videos to its YouTube channel in the past three years, but this “How To Knock Off a Bag” video has been traveling through social media sites (like Reddit) and will soon be its most-viewed.

The takeaway of the clip? If you’re considering making or buying a counterfeit bag, you’d better think not just about what you’ll get… but what it says about you.

My favorite quote (8 minutes in): “the hardware is where you can really make some money. What Saddleback uses is stainless steel 316. What you’re going to want to do is get some nickel plated stuff. So you can nickel plate plastic. You can nickel plate junk, pot medal. You can even nickel plate your crack pipe.”

Munson’s sometimes biting sarcasm is offset by his smile, enthusiasm for the quality of his leather, and a charming moment where he uses candy to lure kids into his plant… not for low-cost labor but for “take your children to work day.”

saddleback child labor

His advice to counterfeiters shows where they can cut corners that will make knockoffs look and feel great, even if they won’t last: “And you will end up saving more money than you will ever make with those gold fillings and jewelry that you get when you dig up those graves,” he says with a warm grin.

I’ve been a long-time fan of the company’s tagline: “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.” And Dave uses more language and a non-salesy tone to build additional emotion around his craftwork — like the line “take this bag with you through life to hold all your memories.” May I add that this video has increased my longing for one of these Saddleback front pocket briefcase? It’s almost $600… so free to buy me one, mom or rich viewer.

And an added plus? In the coming months, what do you think people will find when they search counterfeit Saddleback? Maybe a video that makes them second guess their pursuit?

Garth told me that Amazon loves me.

First Amazon Human Contact. Meet Garth.

LOTD-land-of-the-dead-25300645-500-345Amazon loves me. I’ll tell you how I know, and even show you the proof.

You see Amazon recently differentiated itself with the  Kindle “mayday” button that allows it direct contact. This is a sharp contrast from Google, where getting a human is like requesting the algorithm behind organic search rankings.

Today I had my first human contact with Amazon, which has been steadily increasing its share of my disposable income since the late 1900s. In fact it’s pretty much my default store unless I’m in a hurry or buying milk.

garth at amazonSo here’s how I met Garth (if indeed that’s his real name). On the advice of the desktop support dude at work, I decided to watch Romero’s “Land of the Dead.” Naturally it’s not available on Verizon Fios because it’s got more than 10% on Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer.” As you may not know, Verizon only offers movies on-demand that have a 10% or lower score.

Netflix also doesn’t carry “Land of the Dead” in its lavish 10-movie collection. So that left Amazon Prime. And in a first, I decided to stream right on my laptop.

Microsoft Silverlight hijacked Chrome and Safari and gave me a permission error. And I mistakenly thought there was no way to watch Amazon videos using Flash (thought maybe there was an unholy bond between Amazon and Microsoft).

So I instant messaged Amazon and found Garth. Here’s our discussion. Isn’t he cool? He even acts like a human (see red) and reminds me that Amazon loves me.

(click to see the full transcript)

Continue reading

This is Buddy, the pug of Tom Cote, co-host of "Funny Stuff and Cheese."

My Appearance on Funny Stuff and Cheese

And here’s today’s episode of “Funny Stuff and Cheese,” the daily 12-12:30 talk show that’s on YouTube and one of the fastest growing iTunes talk/comedy shows.

It’s hosted by “Mompreneur” Renae Christine and Tom Cote, who hosts my favorite Instragram channel featuring Buddy his pug with stuff balanced on his head. You should follow him before you forget.

Renae runs and is the author of the highly rated “Home Business Startup Bible.” Her message to moms is simple: stop being frugal and start making some dough because stay-at-home moms are made of “awesome sauce.” Her Instagram features pictures of her wee ones and food.

Beauty and the Bald. Here’s the show. We eat “Easy Cheese” and banter.


viral, marketing, horror, movie, prank, youtube

Possessed Baby Stroller Prank: Screamingly Good Viral Marketing

Hear a baby crying in a stroller in NYC? May want to let that pass. Could be a devil baby that contorts itself and pukes. In this particular case, it may be a robot designed by the folks at Thinkmodo for another horror film promotion (remember the Carrie telekinetic prank in a NYC coffee shop?). This one is to promote “Devil’s Due,” and in about 24 hours it’s past 15 million views (1/16 update: 26 million views in 2 days). That, friends, is viral.

It’s “Devil Baby Attack” and it’s taking YouTube by storm. I’m probably most impressed by the way I learned about this. On a phone call with my mom this evening. I guess I’ll have to call her more often.

Some feedback/thoughts:

  • The prank is beautifully executed from beginning to end. We’re shocked. Then we see behind-scenes. No wasted shot.
  • Excellent job on “seeding” it. There’s no way it would have been seen this many times — so quickly — without a smart promotion of the clip itself (bloggers, journalists, etc).
  • Given the 22K comments, I’d say the majority of the views are real views. When videos are “gamed,” you see a really low number of comments. Rough math: 22K comments divided by 15 million views is .0015 percent of viewers commented. With more programatic  stuff, you see a slightly better ratio. For instance a recent RWJ video got 200K views and 1,700 comments (.0085 percent).
  • I would love to see a bit more of the off camera laughs and the team behind it — It helps when the viewer has a chance to connect more with the creators. But it’s a horror film promo so I suppose you have to keep it somewhat dark and mysterious.
  • I’m glad we’re no longer concerned about making these appear non sponsored. The video’s end reveals it’s a promo. And if you’re gonna have a logo at the end, there’s no shame in providing a link to the movie site for Devil’s Due ( This would drive traffic to the film site’s real trailers and almost invariably help convert more of these 15 million views into ticket-paying customers. Even better: give us a reason to hit the horror site. As long at the viral stunt is this good, we’ll forgive the plug at the end.

Finally, a note to Thinkmodo team: for the love of God people, I missed my invite to these productions. I’ll consult for free to see you guys pull the next one off. I’m one of YouTube’s most-viewed pranksters, an author of a book on viral video marketing, an advertising executive and a horror fan. And I can keep a secret. What else do you need? 

Thinkmodo created the robotic possessed baby to promote the film "Devil's Due."

Thinkmodo created the robotic possessed baby to promote the film “Devil’s Due.” Who’s missing from this shot, friends?

Tollbooth Collector from “Penny Prank” Video Dies

In 2006 I paid this tollbooth guy in pennies and posted a video that's been seen a half million times on YouTube alone. The tollbooth collector died this week.

In 2006 I paid this tollbooth guy in pennies and posted a video that’s been seen a half million times on YouTube alone. The tollbooth collector died this week.

Today I received an e-mail from a man named Rick Anthes who asked for a copy of “Penny Prank for Tollbooth Guy,” a prank video I made in 2006. Rick also wanted to let me know that the tollbooth collector in that prank video recently died of colon cancer. He sent me a link to the obituary of Brian C. Kintzel dated today (Jan. 11, 2014).

Rick said Brian liked the  video, and that he was known for the patience he displayed in it. Rick added “he was my best friend, my confessor, a confident and a mentor. The little brother I never had, the big brother I wish I had.”

Then Rick shared some backstory I hadn’t known until now…

“At the time you made this clip, Brian was a regular Toll Collector, but he had already or was about to take a test for the Bridge Commission that might get him promoted to a Toll Corporal overseeing other  collectors and assume the responsibility for the Bridge he worked on. This video was viewed by the Senior Staff of the Bridge Commission and brought before the board reviewing the candidates for the Corporal’s position. Senior Staff told the board this is the kind of individual you want representing the Bridge Commission and showed the clip. Without question, Brian was promoted. Your actions that day did what you had hoped for and quite a bit more that you may not have even considered at the time. You have to believe that we all have an influence over other people even when we don’t mean it nor when it isn’t contemplated.”

So… this is one of the nicest and most memorable e-mails about one of my videos. I’m sure Brian would have been promoted without the video, but I love that he got credit for it.

I also lost a dear friend over the holidays to colon cancer, so it also made me sad. Get your colonoscopy folks. 


icloud sucks

How to Fix iCloud Message Problems Between iPhone, iPad and iTouch (Dec. 2013)

The lifeless corpse of Steve Jobs has risen to resolve iCloud message synching problems between iPhones, iPads and iPods.

The lifeless corpse of Steve Jobs has risen to resolve iCloud message synching problems between iPhones, iPads and iPods.

For the past month, adults everywhere have found their text messages going to their children’s iPads. And the kids, if they’re old enough, are sending messages to their friends, which in turn go to the parents’ iPhones. So guys like me are at the office getting bombarded with texts from kids, and our own texts aren’t going through.

These are the symptoms of Apple’s changes to iCloud synching, and I’m pretty sure Steve Jobs is turning in his grave. The tech folks at Cupertino should be glad he’s dead, but still fear his wrath in the afterlife.

Here’s how to fix your iCloud problem:

  1. This is not caused by the fact that your kids are using your or account to buy apps on their iPads. Giving them their own account for the iTunes and App stores will not solve your problem.
  2. The beginning of both the problem and solution lies in the settings > iCloud menu. Your iPad and iPod devices are probably logged on to the same iCloud account you use for your iPhone. That means all your text messages go to them. And vice versa. This is something that changed in mid November 2013.
  3. Once you’ve deleted your iCloud account from the iPod/iPad, you will need to set up another if they still plan to message other devices. This requires a credit card.
  4. Next you need to grab their iPad/iPod and go to settings > message. Turn that off iMessage off. Good, now turn it on again. And off.
  5. Theoretically you should be fine. But the bug makes iCloud link these devices even when you delete the account on them. The iPods, iPads and iPhones remember the iCloud account even after you delete them entirely… So you need to delete it. Turn it off. Turn it on.
  6. Do you see the insanity? There’s no pattern here. You just need to keep turning iCloud and iMessage off and on and eventually you will get lucky. It’s a bug. Eventually you’ll do things in the correct sequence and it will resolve.
  7. Once it seems to work, test it by sending a message from each device to a different phone. Then start shopping for a Samsung. This isn’t the beginning or end of Apple’s decline.
i hate apple

i hate apple

While you’re experiencing this, it’s best to scream like a maniac. Threaten never to buy another Apple device again. Tell your kids if they ever login to your iCloud account you’ll take away their pad. Belt out that you will not spend an entire Sunday being the damned tech support desk for the entire family. Tell your wife and kids that if they have another problem with their iPhone, iPad or iPod that they are forbidden from even TELLING you about the problem much less asking for your help.

And here’s the dirty little secret. Apple knows damned well that families share many Apple devices. And families were getting by quite fine without needing synchronized messaging between devices. Apple has allowed this bug to exist, primarily to irritate us into establishing separate iCloud accounts for each device. When we’ve set up separate accounts, we’re more likely to buy songs more than once. We’ll likely buy apps more than once. It’s a conspiracy, man. This is a deliberate attempt to squeeze out “lazy money” from loyal Apple customers, and I’m sure it’s working. This reminds me of when Apple decided to make it impossible for me to shop Audible from my phone. Really, you greedy dick?

I was on the fence about jumping to Android, and the past few weeks have knocked me right over. Apple has been “pulling a Blackberry” in the past few years — it’s been absolutely lazy about feature upgrades since iPhone 3 and 4. Siri? A fingerprint reader? Please. Meanwhile, the Samsung has overtaken iPhone in 2013… it’s awkwardly large, but that’s a sacrifice I’ll need to make.

Who’s up for an Apple exodus? Did the company ever make you feel like it gives a shit if you switch?

apple eats bloody apple

Yes the Amtrak Chicago “Magic Piano” Video is FAKE

Amtrak "magic piano" in Chicago train station is fake candid camera viral video.

Amtrak “magic piano” in Chicago train station is fake candid camera viral video.

It’s a cute idea. A magic piano in a Chicago Amtrak station. As strangers walk by, a player-less piano starts changing its music to match the moment.

The idea, well executed, would have made for a wonderful viral clip. Unfortunately the reactions were not those of innocent bystanders in a candid-camera style viral video. They’re painfully fake reactions by actors who were cast for the production. I’ll take you through some moments that tip us off, but here’s an article that plunges into the Reddit conversations challenging the legitimacy of the clip. Amtrak and its producer, Rob Bliss creative, made this deception obvious by forgetting to remove its casting call for a video in Chicago’s Union Station with a “magical piano around Christmastime that seems to be truly alive.” One example provided in the notice was that an actor might “play ‘Chopsticks’ … and we turn it into a duet,” which is precisely what happens to a young girl as the video opens.

So I proclaim the Amtrak Magic Piano video the worst “viral” video attempt of 2013. The problem, of course, isn’t the fake piano. We kinda figured there wasn’t a magic piano. The problem is that the video itself is a fake candid-camera style clip. And instead of admitting it, Bliss and Amtrak are further burying evidence of the stunt by removing the casting information.

People love pranks for the wonderfully innocent reactions from strangers. It’s the basis of a lot of my most-viewed videos, and the basis of prank channels like Improv Everywhere. But people do not like to see fake reactions in a video that masquerades as a viral prank. And Reddit users don’t much it when companies get busted and then try to erase their tracks.

So what tips us off in the first place? Let’s do the scene by scene:

  1. Girl playing chopsticks has almost no reaction at :28 seconds when the magical duet that occurs. Her “mother” at :37 seconds realizes her reaction is just as disingenuous so she covers her face.
  2. At 1:00 a business man gets frustrated in convenience proximity of the piano. As the music becomes tense, his hand stays up in a token gesture of frustration. People don’t hold their hand up like that when they’re frustrated, and if they do it’s for a brief moment. He somewhat convincingly barks at the piano at 1:07, but that’s a much more severe reaction that would have occurred naturally. In real life, the guy would have almost subconsciously walked away from the noise to keep focused on his call.
  3. At 1:25 a fat man approaches and almost convinces us he’s amused. But when he kicks into a manic blues dance at 1:44 we’re painfully aware that the moment is staged.
  4. By the time two other musicians stumble upon the piano (a trumpet player and a harmonica player) I could no longer continue watching.
  5. I scanned toward the end, and shouldn’t have been surprised to see Santa shooshing the piano at 3:33. I think that was actually the real Santa, though… not an actor.
Amtrak "magic piano" in Chicago train station is fake candid camera viral video.

Amtrak “magic piano” in Chicago train station is fake candid camera viral video.

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t fake a candid-camera style video.
  2. If you decide to ignore lesson one, don’t post auditions publicly.
  3. If you get busted for faking it, admit it. Don’t try to bury the evidence from Reddit folks. They’re smarter than that.
  4. Don’t pretend it’s not sponsored… acknowledge Amtrak in the video itself.



Bank of America is Your Sweet But Senile Grandmother on Twitter

momDigiday writer Saya Weissman lists Bank of America in the top-5 brand fails on Twitter, and I just had my own amusing experience with the bank. Today’s lesson for brands is simple: while it can’t hurt to integrate your customer service help desk with your social media efforts, you probably shouldn’t have customer service reps manning the Twitter voice.

I’d characterize Bank of America’s Twitter voice as “well intentioned but lacking mental clarity.” But we can’t judge or condemn the bank! It’s kinda like an aging grandmother who may not be completely lucid, but she certainly means no harm.

Weissman’s gave BOA a “fail” because the bank provided a human but robotic response (“we’d be happy to review your account“) to tweets by activist Mark Hamilton (@darthmarkh). Hamilton, of course, wasn’t exactly keen to discuss an account. He had been tweeting about being chased away from a Bank of America by cops… it seems Hamilton had been drawing an anti-foreclosure message on the sidewalk.

My recent experience with the bank was almost as strange. Yesterday I saw that Bank of America television commercial (“Flowers“) featuring a dude bringing his gal a bouquet of flowers. Inexplicably the dude decides just one flower will do, so he leaves the rest in his cab.

My reaction to the ad wasn’t quite “I need to open a Bank of America account.” I was more thinking “I wonder what the next cab passenger thought when he found a bouquet of flowers in an otherwise empty cab?” So I tweeted: “I found the rest of the dude’s flowers in a cab. Can I keep them?” I didn’t expect a response, and frankly I was pleased to have one.

Naturally, my Tweet made absolutely no sense to anyone but me. That’s quite often my MO on Twitter. So we can’t blame Bank of America for asking for account details for clarity, right (“I’m not sure I understand the question… please send me a DM with more detail.” It’s just an odd response that sounds more SIRI than human. The logic appears to be: “when in doubt, a comment about our bank is probably an inquiry to discuss an account.” Hey that’s cool, though. The next time I have a problem with my account… I’ll just tweet something like: “increase my credit by $5K.”

Bank of America on Twitter: Your confused but sweet grandmother

Bank of America on Twitter: Your confused but sweet grandmother




My badass, poor-man's semi-portable bluetooth amplified speaker system

Poor Man’s SONOS: How To Make a Badass Bluetooth Audio System from Amo Box and Old Radio Shack Speakers

My badass, poor-man's semi-portable bluetooth amplified speaker system

My badass, poor-man’s semi-portable bluetooth amplified speaker system has sound that compares to the Sonos system.

Who needs the fancy Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth wireless rechargeable speakers? Or your fancy SONOS systems?

Here’s my morning project… a do-it-yourself semi-portable amplified Bluetooth speaker system made out of my grandfather’s amo box. If you already have a pair of decent speakers, this system will set you back exactly $44.84 and give you sound that competes with a $300 SONOS (although the Sonos software is really cool and Wifi range is much better than 20-25 feet of Bluetooth).

If you don’t have the fortitude for this, here’s the link to buy the Sonos for the best price I could find online ($199 on Amazon).

Parts include:

  1. A pair of speakers. I used a pair of Radio Shack Minimus 7 speakers. They don’t make them like this anymore, kids. Before there were websites, the audio mags used to rate these as the best. Again- you can bring whatever nice speakers you already have.
  2. A Bluetooth receiverBelkin F8Z492TTP Bluetooth Music Receiver (1K plus four star rating on Amazon, and can’t beat the $24.99 price). *** Update- the Homespot NFC Bluetooth is $27.99 and worth the extra $3 because the range is better and it beeps when it’s paired. According to Amazon reviewers, it sounds better too.
  3. An amplifier. You probably already have one, but I LOVE the sound of this puppy and it’s dirt cheap: “Lepai” LP-2020A Tripath Class-T Hi-Fi Audio Mini Amplifier with Power Supply (awesome sound for $16.85, and we’re talking 1,500 almost 5-star ratings). I think this is the best tech bargain I’ve seen in my life.
  4. Accessories: The bluetooth receiver and amplifier come with power cords and audio connectors. So all you need is some speaker wire, glue, and an extension cord.

Wish you could hear it. It’s pretty bold. Nice whoop-ass Redneck acoustical system for the pool or home. Another update Jan. 11, 2014: I just cranked it and asked a buddy and his kids to close their eyes. They picked this rig over the Sonos playing the exact same song!

The instructions are simple and, of course, you don’t need the amo box. But it’s nice if you want to move it around.

  1. Plug the speakers into the Lepai amp speaker inputs. Plug the Lepai amp in the wall. You can handle that, right?
  2. Plug the Homespot (or Belkin) Bluetooth receiver into the amplifier photo/audio input. Plug the power in the wall.
  3. Get your iPhone, iPod or laptop and “find” the Homespot or Belkin, then pair them.
  4. Turn on the sound of your device (no special app required) and it comes booming out the speakers like audible love!

Let me know if it works for ya? I can’t believe more people don’t do this!

google chromecast wires

Do You Need a Google Chrome Cast? Yes if You’re a YouTube Binger.

google chromecast wiresIt looks like a thumb drive and it has the Google Chrome logo on it. What is that thing called the Google Chromecast, and do you need one? If you already have a Roku or AppleTV, does the Chromecast get you anything new?

Well if you’re a YouTube binger, the answer is a certain yes.

This device launched in July, but is probably the least understood product Google has ever made. It’s basically a $35 easy-to-install dongle that plugs into a television’s HDMI input and allows you to stream video and audio via Wifi. The catch is that it only works with select apps like YouTube, Netflix and Google play. By contrast, Roku, TiVo and AppleTV are more full-serviced tools/services for grazing video via select services.

Unlike  other streaming-video gadgets (Roku, TiVo, AppleTV), Google Chromecast has a fairly defined use. If you’re watching a YouTube or Netflix video on a computer, phone or pad, you can easily “fling” it to an HDTV to share with others. This is a handy feature if you’d prefer to use a device to control an experience, rather than a remote.

To set it up, you:

  1. Plug in the Chromecast into the back of your television via HDMI input (the packaging is a bit deceptive, because you also need to power it with an additional cord that goes into a wall).
  2. “Find” the Chromecast via your device’s blue tooth, then you connect the Chromecast  with your device’s app.
  3. The next time you’re snacking on a video on your device, you can choose to play it on your TV via the Chromecast.

I still like Roku because it gives me easy access to Netflix and Amazon Prime, and the remote makes life fairly simple. But I can see Google Chrome as more than a  poor-man’s Roku. If you watch a lot of YouTube, it’s a no-brainer. You get all the benefits of your “lean forward” binging (searching, subscribing, related videos) but via a large-screen “lean back” experience.

I can think of another use that would alone justify its $35 price… if you travel a lot, it’s a nice way to watch Netflix from a hotel room without crowding a laptop. Of course you’ll need wifi.



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