The Cult of the Snuggie threatens to take over America! Or at least, a substantial number – 4 million – of late-night couch spuds.
The Snuggie, an oversized fleece blanket with sleeves, stars in a ubiquitous TV ad so cheesy it’s practically art, and apparently wildly entertaining. The ad shows people wearing Snuggies at a sporting event, cheering and high-fiving each other while dressed sort of like medieval monks.
“Every once in a while, a product transcends advertising to become part of pop culture,” says Scott Boilen, president and CEO of Allstar Products Group of Hawthorne, N.Y., which conceived and markets the China-made Snuggie.
Indeed, Snuggies seem to be everywhere. See them on Facebook – nearly 250 groups, pro and con; one fan club lists 5,999 members. Watch them on YouTube – nearly 300 parody videos posted, including one titled “The Cult of the Snuggie.”
Jay Leno makes fun of them: “Lard-ass quilt was the original name! Why not just put your robe on backwards?” Ellen DeGeneres spoofed them, trying one on during her show. Fox News even spotted someone wearing a Snuggie in the crowd at President Obama’s inauguration.
There are snarky Snuggie-love sites on the Internet, such as SnuggieSightings.com, where fans post photos, videos and “news.” Did you know that Snuggie drinking games are sweeping colleges? Students take a swig every time a Snuggie ad airs after midnight.
The Snuggie concept is not new, nor is it the only such product on the market, but the Snuggie proves once again that an attractive price (two for $19.95, plus free book light online and on TV, about $14.99 for one in stores) and clever marketing can take you far in American retailing.
Snuggies went on sale in August, began TV advertising in October and started shipping to retailers in December. Already, 4 million have been sold. But the Internet is crowded with angry testimonials from consumers who say they were overcharged or never got their order or waited much longer than four to six weeks for their Snuggies to arrive.
Boilen promises that all complaints will be resolved. “In our internal consumer-focus groups, Snuggie got the highest rating ever for any product, even (among) people who had to wait,” he says.
Or despite other consequences. “I’ve gained 20 pounds since I started using my Snuggie,” jokes Amy Norris of Baltimore, a member of a Snuggie fan club on Facebook. “I got it for a Christmas gift and initially thought it was just funny, but now we fight over it at my house.”