Branding In History:Fad and Brand – Wham-O®

The marketplace is full of fads and fads sell products –usually in huge numbers!

But what’s the difference between a fad and a brand?  Plenty!  Fads are fly-by-night; they grow fast (and often die even quicker); and, most important, the maker doesn’t really control the growth –they just respond to demand as fast as they can!

One major exception –a kind of blending of fad and brand is Wham-O®!  Wham-O® has built its brand one product and one fad after the other.  They invented the Hula Hoop, the Frisbee (originally called the Pluto Platter), Slip ‘N Slide, Silly String and the Superball!  Sure, many of these products were huge fads, but the difference is that the company brand –started by two USC classmates named Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin— was about fun, experimentation and thinking outside of the box –and all these products came out of this brand!  The company didn’t live and die with each fad.  They stuck to their brand essentials and grew!  Check out the history

My favorite Wham-O product was Slip N’ Slide.  When I was a kid, we used to leave Queens, go up to the country and use my cousin Victor’s.  And we actually called it Slip and Slide by Wham-O (talk about branding! I still remember the ad too!).  We had the time of our lives!  Back in the city, my best friend and I even made a makeshift version by wetting down the grass to make it good for sliding!  Still fun, but not as much fun!  In fact, kids all across the country were doing stuff like this when their parents didn’t buy the real thing!  What a product!  What a company!  They seemed to know exactly what us kids wanted! 
And, you know what, they really did know!  Wham-O® didn’t just happen to step into “fads.”  Part of Wham- O®s story includes the marketing smarts of the two founders!  They got out to know what their target market –kids— really wanted!  They visited playgrounds, talked to kids, tried out new gadgets, traveled the world in search of great, new toy ideas!  You see, they stepped into their brand long before their products became fads!

And, remember, it’s always easier if you keep branding in mind!

Here’s some more links on Wham-O and some fads like “hammer” pants and “hyper color” shirts found in the where-are-they-now dustbin:


Sudden popularity is great for a brand, but the best fads are the one’s that come as proof that your brand has really hit its target market!


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