Third Annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest
I can't believe I let April 1 come and go without posting the rules to the Third Annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest. Well, better late than never.
For this contest, the goal is to create fear. Not just any fear, but a fear that you can alleviate through the sale of your new product idea. There are lots of risks out there, some of them serious, some of them so unlikely that we shouldn't worry about them, and some of them completely made up. And there are lots of products out there that provide security against those risks.
Your job is to invent one. First, find a risk or create one. It can be a terrorism risk, a criminal risk, a natural-disaster risk, a common household risk -- whatever. The weirder the better. Then, create a product that everyone simply has to buy to protect him- or herself from that risk. And finally, write a catalog ad for that product.
Here's an example, pulled from page 25 of the Late Spring 2008 Skymall catalog I'm reading on my airplane right now:
A Turtle is Safe in Water, A Child is Not!
Even with the most vigilant supervision a child can disappear in seconds and not be missed until it's too late. Our new wireless pool safety alarm system is a must for pool owners and parents of young children. The Turtle Wristband locks on the child's wrist (a special key is required to remove it) and instantly detects immersion in water and sounds a shrill alarm at the Base Station located in the house or within 100 feet of the pool, spa, or backyard pond. Keep extra wristbands on hand for guests or to protect the family dog.
Entries are limited to 150 words -- the example above had 97 words -- because fear doesn't require a whole lot of explaining. Tell us why we should be afraid, and why we should buy your product.
Entries will be judged on creativity, originality, persuasiveness, and plausibility. It's okay if the product you invent doesn't actually exist, but this isn't a science fiction contest.
Portable salmonella detectors for salad bars. Acoustical devices that estimate tiger proximity based on roar strength. GPS-enabled wallets for use when you've been pickpocketed. Wrist cuffs that emit fake DNA to fool DNA detectors. The Quantum Sleeper. Fear offers endless business opportunities. Good luck.
Entries due by May 1.
EDITED TO ADD (4/7): Submit your entry in the comments.
EDITED TO ADD (4/8): You people are frighteningly creative.
Posted on April 7, 2008 at 3:50 PM • 335 Comments