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Interviews: Blendtec Founder Tom Dickson Answers Your Questions 51

A while ago you had a chance to ask blender aficionado and internet celebrity Tom Dickson about viral marketing, and all things blended. Below you'll find his responses to your blender inquiries.
Why did you start doing the videos?
by Jim Hall

I'd like to know how you got the idea to do the "Will it blend?" videos in the first place? As mentioned in the summary, it's one of, if not the greatest viral marketing campaigns of all time. Did someone at Blendtec just suggest out of the blue "You should do videos on YouTube", or were you looking for a new advertising idea and a clever marketer had this idea?

Tom: Will it Blend? was developed accidentally by a new marketing director hired in 2006. I have always been one to try to break my blenders to find their fail points and determine how I can improve them. George, the new marketing director, discovered some of the wacky things I was doing to my blenders, including shoving 2x2s into the jars to try to break the blender. With a $50 budget George bought a Happy Meal, a rotisserie chicken, coke cans, golf balls, and a few other items, and they made 5 videos. Six days later we had six million views on YouTube. Six years, 120+ videos, almost 200 million views later, Will it Blend? has been named as the number one viral marketing campaign of all time.

which ones surprised you
by Anonymous Coward

Which things really surprised you by how well, or poorly, they blended?

Tom: Honestly, there were actually few things that surprised me because I have been blending things in my blenders for years. But there have been many really fun, and scary ones for safety reasons. That’s why we make sure to place “Do Not Try This At Home” on all of our videos.

Will It Blend
by Anonymous Coward

What product created the most noxious byproducts after being blended? Have you ever had to get medical treatment or call out a HazMat team after blending a product?

Tom: The line “Don’t breathe this” didn’t get added by happenstance. One of my first blends was glass marbles. The cloud of glass particles that it created really prompted me to say “Don’t breathe this” and it has stuck ever since. But, luckily we have never had to call the HazMat team or visit the ER after a blend.

Worst Warranty Request?
by Anonymous Coward

Did anyone blend something they really shouldn't have and then send in for a warranty repair?

Tom: We actually receive calls into our customer service department all the time from customers who have gone against our call to not try this at home. Just last week we received a call from a customer (well, a customer’s teenage son) who decided to try some “Will it Blends” while his mom was on vacation. He called in asking to receive a replacement jar before his mom returned because he knew his life was on the line after almost destroying his mom’s favorite kitchen appliance after trying to blend a crowbar. Thankfully he was not hurt, but please listen to what we say in the videos: “Don’t’ try this at home.”

Data destruction device
by iced_tea

Have you ever thought about marketing your blenders as Data Destruction devices? Blending thumb drives or Hard Disks?

Tom: We have never really put much focus on marketing these blenders other than for food consumption. Interestingly enough we have also received calls from companies that scrap hard drives and other boards for gold recovery. They have asked whether we recommend our blender for this type of service. Since we really didn’t create our warranty with this type of use in mind we have to direct them to traditional scrap methods. But, this goes to show that people and companies are looking for alternative and fun ways to run their business.

Did it work?
by MyFirstNameIsPaul

Did all those YouTube views, interviews, awards, and features result in increased profits?

Tom: At the same time that we introduced the Will it Blend? campaign we also made a big push for retail expansion as part of our marketing plan. We had been in retail for a few years at that point, but without the driving force of a professional marketing director. It is difficult to directly link sales to our Will it Blend? campaign mainly because the demographic of our WIB viewers is very different from those who actually buy our blenders. However, these 16-24 year-old male WIB viewers are great influencers to their 35-65 year-old moms and grandmas. We do know that our retail growth has been over 800% since 2006.

When the Big Appliance in the sky calls
by paiute

Will you be interred, cremated, or blended?

Tom: This isn’t the first time I have been asked this question. Honestly, it makes sense for me to be blended and that does spark some good ideas for a final “Will it Blend” episode. But in the end, my lovely wife will probably decide against blending.

Why Are Blenders Hard?
by bill_mcgonigle

I've pretty much hated every blender I've owned to date and recognize that there are only two or three blenders on the market that are actually good at their job, and they each cost as much as a new refrigerator. Clearly sticking a viscous blade on the end of a beefy motor isn't all there is to it. So, please explain to the engineers who haunt this site what the challenges are in making a good blender.

Tom: Creating solutions for ordinary and daily problems is what I love to do. That is at the root of all my inventions and the blender is no different. Add an endless desire to put big motors in little things and you have a great recipe for the best kitchen appliances on the market. With that said, there are many challenges that come with creating the most powerful and innovative blender. Some of the most interesting challenges have come in the least likely of forms, like protecting intellectual property from the imitators. When we created a new jar design to solve the problem of cavitation (our wildside jar), this patented design was soon copied by a few of our competitors after they failed to create a unique solution on their own. What I solved over a Holiday weekend couldn’t be solved by their best engineers. Business is cut throat, but in the end we were victorious in protecting our IP and were awarded $24.1 Million from one of our competitors.

What is next for blender R&D?
by Aristos Mazer

Blenders do not seem like an area of technology with a lot of room for innovation, but I've been surprised before (Sears has a "hammer research division" that is kind of amazing). What do you see as the next big thing in blending? Perhaps plans for a reassembler?

Tom: If you think the blending world is short of room for innovation you haven’t watched us too closely. Innovation is in almost every aspect of our blender, but especially in our new designs. There is no need to look further than our pre-programmed cycles and our square jar and single-blade technologies to see innovation. After all, how many home blenders do you see with these amazing innovations? But, let’s focus on our new designs for just a minute. Our new Designer Series blender for the home and our Stealth blender for commercial both have our latest technologies in their capacitive touch screens and both have super quiet designs. In fact, our Stealth has received numerous awards for being the quietest blender on the market as well as having a USB interface to quickly load new recipes for seasonal recipes. Both can be found at Blendtec.com.
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Interviews: Blendtec Founder Tom Dickson Answers Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • Whaa?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MetalliQaZ ( 539913 ) on Friday March 15, 2013 @11:55AM (#43183037)

    which ones surprised you
    by Anonymous Coward

    Which things really surprised you by how well, or poorly, they blended?

    Tom: Honestly, there were actually few things that surprised me because I have been blending things in my blenders for years. But there have been many really fun, and scary ones for safety reasons. That’s why we make sure to place “Do Not Try This At Home” on all of our videos.

    Who. Friggin. Cares.
    Way to tell me nothing. If I was a teacher and this was submitted to a free response question on a quiz, I would give an F.

  • Re:LOL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 15, 2013 @12:06PM (#43183173)

    Patents on actual mechanical inventions his company makes and sells? That's what patents are for.

  • Re:Whaa?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Friday March 15, 2013 @12:10PM (#43183217) Journal

    Most of the 'answers' were of the same quality, more of a sales pitch than anything. You'll learn more by just watching the videos.

  • Re:Whaa?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Friday March 15, 2013 @12:31PM (#43183459) Homepage Journal

    I appreciate Tom taking a stab at my question, though lawyering procedure wasn't what I'd hoped engineers would be interested in. By searching on 'wildside jar blendtec' I wound up at the specifications page that says "Patented 5-sided jar that produces a better blending vortex", and Tom mentioned cavitation - so I'm assuming that a standard 4-sided jar like I have now sets up a cavitation in the fluid and that the asymmetrical 5th side is the invention that interrupts the cavitation, imparting more energy into the blending itself. I think I learned something!

    Maybe next somebody will read the patent and/or this thread can wind up being a geek-out about blending mechanics.