When I asked platinum-selling country star Paul Brandt what the most popular sale item was on his tours, he hesitated for a moment, then let out a big “Ha,” and laughed. “I don’t know if I should be embarrassed to admit this or not, but I guess the fans have spoken. Bar none, over the last 20 years, it’s been a little rubber duck.”
While my mind turned immediately to my youth and Ernie’s Rubber Duckie from Sesame Street, it turns out Brandt was referring to C.W. McCall’s novelty trucking classic Convoy, from way back in the mid 70’s. I should have guessed immediately, having owned that classic 45-RPM record that encouraged me to get my first CB Radio.
“Yeah, breaker one-nine, this here’s the Rubber Duck,
You got a copy on me Pigpen? C’mon.
Ah yeah, 10-4 Pigpen, for sure, for sure.
By golly it’s clean clear to Flagtown. C’mon.
Yeah, that’s a big 10-4 there Pigpen.
Yeah, we definitely got the front door good buddy.
Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a Convoy.”
“I re-cut Convoy and had a huge hit with it,” Brandt said.
It was his dad who introduced the country star to the song. “I remember my dad in his 1972 Pontiac Parisienne with white Naugahyde seats, holding an orange 8-track tape, when he looked at me and said, you’re going to like this one son.”
After his cover became a hit, he thought it would be a hoot to brand some little rubber ducks and sell them. Like the song, they quickly became a big hit. But what he didn’t expect was the reaction he got one night as he performed the timeless classic.
“We were playing at a huge theatre in Winnipeg and all of a sudden from out in the audience it started raining rubber ducks.”
“People throwing rubber ducks onto the stage have become a cult thing,” he said. In fact, the iconic ducks are now a fun part of his show and he creates a new one for every tour. He even performs the song with a giant duck on stage and does the singing portion, as well CB radio part, with an actual CB going through the microphone.
Whether intentional or not, you have to admit it’s very clever marketing. Not only is it a great way to bring in revenue, it certainly entertains and engages the audience.
The funny thing is that I hadn’t originally thought to ask that merchandising question; I wasn’t even sure how directly involved a platinum selling country music artist was with merchandise selling. The reason I did was because it was announced that for his upcoming tour the country star was once again partnering with Square, a mobile payment system that allows anyone to quickly and easily accept payment by credit card through their smartphones and tablets.
As it turns out, Brandt is directly involved in all aspects of his businesses, and is quite tech savvy, too. But as I wrote in a recent article, Square’s simplicity, ease of use, quick connectivity and its ability to accept mobile payment even where there is no cell coverage or Internet connectivity attracted him to it.
This year, Paul Brandt is co-headlining with Dean Brody on the Road Trip Tour with stops in 22 cities across Canada. It kicks off September 24th in Victoria with the final stop in Halifax on October 24th.
Brandt will be in in Edmonton on September 30th and I plan on being there. I can’t wait for the live ‘Convoy Experience’. I’ll be lining up to “get me a Rubber Duck” for sure. As to whether I’ll be throwing my duck on stage, I’ll have to think about that. Maybe, I’ll get two – one for show and one to throw.
Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.