Examples in Brand Building: Lessons from Wayne the "Pickle Man".


To know Wayne is to know he is not the “Pickle Man” type. You might think after you read what he did that he is a natural attention seeker, and comfortable in center stage. He isn’t. In fact he’s the opposite. He’s a quiet, reserved, and in his own words, “almost socially retarded” kind of guy. He didn’t become the “Pickle Man” because he wanted to but because he had to. With six mouths to feed and knowing that he had 20 competitors offering the exact same vehicles and for relatively the same pricing he knew that if all things were equal, price would become the deciding factor. He could not afford to let all things be equal.

Watching an AFLAC duck commercial he thought to himself; “I need something memorable like that.” And with four kids who liked pickles he got “a stupid idea” as he put it. After testing a half dozen branding ideas with his customers over a two month process, the overwhelming winner was “Pickle Man”! And so Wayne thought, “I guess I better go to Sam’s Club so I can start giving away jars of pickles to my customers!”

Wayne approached Gedney Pickle Company and told them was going to start giving away a free small jar of pickles to all of his customers who test drove a car with him and give away a free large jar with every car purchased. Photo of pickle jars and pictures.The Pickle Company was intrigued! He began small but eventually started giving away lots and lots of pickles to the point they started buying cases of pickles and storing them at the dealership. Each jar costs Wayne between $2.50 – $5.00.

The success and uniqueness of the program was so exciting to Gedney that they decided to participate in the local town parade. Wayne and his family rode on a green truck and gave away jars of pickles with his business card on them, “Pickle Man” Frisbees, footballs, and hundreds of hats, shaped like pickles, to the kids. They didn’t stop there… Gedney also committed to putting up two BILLBOARDS depicting Wayne (the “Pickle Man”) in a picklemobile on the North and Southbound sides I-35 next to the exit to his dealership. The billboards had Wayne in a picklemobile and said “Free Huge Jar with every Car! Go see the Pickle Man!” Gedney paid for half of the billboard, the dealership paid for a quarter, and Wayne paid for a quarter of the cost.

Let’s recap what he has going on:

  1. Gives away a jar of pickles to everyone who buys a car
  2. Takes a photo of them with the jar of pickles standing next to their new car
  3. Has a pickle coloring contest for the kids of his customers that they can win prizes for “best colored pickle”
  4. Has a website for all things pickle and all things Wayne
  5. Had billboards put up on both sides of the interstate near his exit (partially paid
    for by the pickle company)
  6. Gives away footballs, Frisbees, hats all with his contact information and brand

Why does Wayne do all of this? It’s pretty simple, Wayne gets to separate himself from a hundred other white, mid-forties, normal looking Ford salesman in a competitive market, the pickle company gets into the house of potential new pickle consumers, and the customers get a shopping experience they won’t soon forget. Everyone wins!

I know what you are thinking… and NO… it’s not about the pickles.

Don’t be confused and think, “I can start giving away pickles and that’s the answer” or think “I’m not going to go around giving away pickles.”; neither of those are the right thought. Wayne is an amazing brander but he is also an amazing relationship builder. He does the steps of the sale very well, and cares for his customers, and on top of all that, He BRANDS.

I am not asking you to become a pickle salesperson; I want you to sell cars. I am not asking you to ask the dealership to do this stuff for you; the dealership does enough. All I am asking is, are you forgettable? I promise you Wayne isn’t.

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