Pyramid Selling

For a long time, I worked in the Marketing Department of a large Multi-national publishing house. I have always loved the art of the sell, establishing a need that you didn’t realise you required, and creatively bringing a message to the market.

There is this thing called The Passing Parade.

You know how you get your weekend papers and out pops a handful of full colour brochures, advertising all things from holidays to fridges to bedroom suites. That is what is know as the Passing Parade. 

Companies know that at any given point, a readers washing machine or fridge has just broken down, and if they keep feeding you their message, one day it will be relevant to your situation. And BANG!

You got yourself a customer.

You can see these examples everywhere. 

Ever notice that if your TV is on at about 5pm, there will be a flurry of fast food commercials, imploring you to come and make your life easier. Have a break, and all that shit?

It really is a fascinating science.


The best example of a direct marketer that I have ever seen in action took place in Cairo in 1997.

It was a scorching hot day, like there were bats dropping from the sky hot. This day, myself and my boyfriend, a smart young chap known as Mr Woog, were going to do something a little different. We were off to visit the Pyramids of Giza and go deep beneath the structure.

The way to get deep beneath the structure to check out one of the tombs was via a small tunnel, slightly wider than my hips, and … it as very, very dark.

Our guide popped in first, followed by Mr Woog and then my good self. After ages, and ages, and then some more time, we ended up in a small room which must have been 4 x 4 metres. The roof was very, very low and the guide spoke in broken english, waving his torch around, telling us random facts about the structure. 

And then it hit me like 9 million tonnes of stone.

I was under 9 million tonnes of stone, and I no longer wanted to be.

I told the two fellas that I was outta there, and in the style of a dog i.e. on all paws, I raced up that steep shaft as fast as I could. I sweated like a bitch, I stumbled several times and sustained some fairly mild soft tissue damage to various parts of my body.

And then, just when I thought my lungs were about to explode and my thirst would cause my premature death, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

I burst onto the scene like someone had shot me out of a cannon and that is where I met the GREATEST MARKETER IN ALL THE LAND.

An old man, sitting in a stool. At his feet was a beaten up esky and in that esky? Ice. 

And in that Ice?

COCA COLA. Full strength. None of this diet shit.

For a moment,  I thought the heat had fried my brain and I was witnessing a mirage, but he held out that coke to me, and I gulped it down like a little piggy.

Then he hit me with the bill. T’was highway robbery.

But I paid it and commented to him that he indeed was going to be a rich man. He showed me his fairly large gold ring and grinned.

But you had to respect him. He had cornered a niche market, had two goons to make sure no one else set up shot within a stumbling district. His price point has extraordinarily high for his product, but because of his monopoly on the situation, he could get away with charging as much as he liked.

And what does a $12 coke taste like? Well, 16 years later I can still remember it like is was yesterday. And I do not begrudge that salesman and his shiny gold ring a bit.

What is the worst you have even been ripped off?