The Power of Copywriting. Sell A Used Wetsuit for $20,000+
By on Mar 20, 2011

This morning I woke to a message from a Tim Mcguire,  a fellow affiliate from New Zealand. He sent me a link to an absolutely insane auction on Ebay.

Here are the facts:

viral wetsuit ebay- There is a Drylock Summer Wetsuit Medium USED for sale.

- It’s been used about 30 times.

- No one famous or notable has worn it, just a complete John Doe.

- The seller bought it new got around $500.

- A few signs of cosmetic wear.

 

How much do you think that would sell for? $100, $200, $300, more?

So far it is at over $20,000 and viewed over 500,000 times. Why? Simply because of great copywriting.

Here are a few extracts from this copywriting extravaganza:

bear pissing“You’re probably thinking “People p*ss in wetsuits, I’m not sure about a second hand wetsuit”, but believe it or not I have NEVER urinated in this suit, seriously, these suits are too good to be doing such a vulgar act in, the wee just ends up staying in the suit and then when you’re sat having a post-surf pint in the pub you smell awful and girls don’t like boys that smell of p*ss  so you just sit there, alone all night, sobbing into your pint of Betty Stoggs like a lonely desperate p*ss smelling man”.

and some more…

beyonce dancingIt’s a size medium or “m”, it was the top of the range suit when I bought it, I think I paid around £300 for it, still a great warm suit that will make you surf at least 200% better. It won’t really but it will keep you warm and it’s flexible so you’ll be able to throw your arms around like Beyonce whilst you’re bouncing along a wave. People will look at you and say “f*ckin hell check that dude out, he knows what he’s doing wearing one of those Xcel suits and he’s got some fresh dance moves”. They probably won’t say this.

last one…

cheesy surferWhy am I selling it? Well I’ve just bought a new one, as I’m a flash tw*t like that, I tend to get a new suit every season, I just like the feel of fresh neoprene on my soft skin, and well to be honest I could do with some cash to pay for prostitutes. No, that was a joke, now you’re going to think the suit is riddled with disease but it’s not as I was joking I do NOT engage with ladies of the night.

 

After this auction went viral the owner kindly said he would donate 95% of proceedings to Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims. Once that was said 15-20 surf related companies helped out and offered donations to push auction.

Next time you think about selling your old motorbike helmet or your good for nothing computer on Ebay try unleashing some of your creative copywriting skills.

Sorry, I had to post one more segment…

This listing for my urine-free wetsuit is getting a lot of unexpected attention which is nice but I’m feeling I should do something positive with all the ‘f*cking energy man’, so I’ve decided to give 90% of the money it makes to the Red Cross to aid their efforts in Japan. That sounds all ‘oh look at me I’m so nice I’m giving to charity’ doesn’t it… yeah well p*ss off.

This shows the crazy power of copywriting which transformed a semi useless wetsuit worth around $200-$300, into a $20,000+ extravaganza. All because of the boredom/creatively of a surfing chav.

I’m curious to know if anyone of you has had viral success due to mental copywriting on auctions or have seen any as successful as this one?

Comments (28)

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  1. Dukeo says:

    One of the craziest auction I ever seen was a guy selling a "ghost in a box".

    Well, it was just a box, but thanks to his copywriting skills, the guy sold it for $1500+

    • d3so says:

      Definitely an insane auction. Maybe the seller bought it from himself with a separate ebay account to create some sort of viral hype.

  2. l0zo says:

    Haha I just looked it up, it also looks like a New Zealand copied the idea and put it on the NZ version of Ebay http://bizarrenz.blogspot.com/2010/03/trademe-gho

  3. mrgreenam says:

    Hmm, I don't know, without his copywriting none of the other stuff would of followed.

    Sure doing it on internet helped, but if you go down that route then you have to thank electricity for powering the internet, or the invention of computers so people could use the internet.

    For something to go viral it either has to be very good or very bad. In this case it was because of something good. I also wouldn't underestimate the talent to be very bad (without looking like you are trying to be bad).

    If copywriting didn't do it then. why don't all ebay auctions go viral? They can be spread just as easily throughout the internet.

  4. silentobserver says:

    Took a look at my comment again. I said "I don't think you can attribute the sale amount to his copywriting". I'm not discounting the fact that the copywriting made the auction go viral. The copywriting was unique and quirky and got a ton of attention however you can't attribute the sale price to the copywriting because:

    1. several corporations have donated prizes/gift to the highest bidder so now its not a matter of simply bidding on a $300 used wet suit as there are a ton of other higher value things coming with it.
    2. 90% of money is going to charity which would give altruistic bidders a huge incentive to bid high and raise the selling price.

    I suspect the bidders are surf related companies trying to use this for publicity as opposed to a private individual who was mesmerized by his copy.

    Yes, without his copywriting none of this would have happened however that doesn't mean his copywriting is responsible for the 20k selling price as its pretty obvious there are other factors at play. Still a great story about being creative and thinking out the box though.

  5. haha. That's a nice trick of copywriting, eh. Actually, I can't believe that a suit like that would sell $20,000. Wow!

  6. mrgreenam says:

    Yep agreed.

    Copywriting was the spark that made this auction go on fire.

  7. Will says:

    The comments here give the impression that some folks still believe you don't need copy writing skills to sell online. That may have been the case in the early 90's when only the tech savvy knew how to setup a single page site with some content but that's not the case anymore.

    You now have old school copy writing guys like Dan Kenney and John Carlton online who will eat your lunch with an ugly looking site with great copy compare to a pretty one with bad copy.

    At the end of the day it boils down to getting our hands into the other guys pocket without a confrontation. How do you do that? With good copy writing.

  8. Alvin says:

    I say power to copy writing all day long!

    Lorenzo, what copy writing books have you read and would reccomend?

    I've been meaning to get a few books on copy writing but had a million other things to do.
    This post is the kick up the old (defined) bottom to read and learn more about the power of
    copy.

    • mrgreenam says:

      I'm a big fan of "Ogilvy on Advertising" and Ca$hvertising by Drew Eric Whitman (even though I hate how he uses "$" instead of "S" in the title.

  9. Hey Lorenzo – another good article.

    I think there are a lot of factors in the success of this guy's auction – or anything that goes viral online. He definitely had some fun with the content and did a nice job of making his auction item stand out from the typical. I agree with some of the posters that copywriting alone didn't make his auction so popular, but without the funny copywriting, few people would have ever noticed his auction amidst other wetsuits and surfing items for sale. His creativity gave him the initial boost to stand out from the crowd and helped make the viral success possible.

    Long story short, you can't attribute all the auction's success to clever/funny content, but the writing was likely the spark that provided the foundation for the viral interest that followed.

  10. SteelyAl says:

    All goes to prove that EFFECTIVE copywriting has far more to do with pace, style and humour than immaculate grammar. There's a few snotty clients out there who could learn a thing or two from this inspired bit of writing. Can't start a sentence with 'But' …? Of course you bloody can.

  11. Simon says:

    Reminds me of the 'Time travelling washing machine' for sale on TradeMe last year that went viral because of the genuinely funny copy – it also sold for thousands and money was donated to charity.

  12. [...] “The Power Of Copywriting. Sell A Used Wetsuit For $20,000+“ – Selling a used wetsuit for a profit on eBay can be difficult, even if it is urine-free. So, how did this guy sell his for $20,000+? [...]

  13. Istrebitel says:

    You asked for it. I once watched a guy sell a housefly for $457 and some change. The title of the auction read "Radioactive Mutant Fly". He went on to tell the story of how he took a lb of beef out of his freezer and that there was a frozen fly on the package. Oblivious to this fact, he threw the package of beef in the microwave. He claims that when he opened the microwave door that the fly "enraged" flew out and he had captured it in an empty McDonalds bag. Not knowing what to do with it, he decided to offer it on Ebay as it was possible it had gained radioactive mutant powers. The pictures were pretty funny and the auction gained some serious attention ;)

    • mrgreenam says:

      Hahaha that sounds hilarious. I tried to track down that auction but no luck. He deserved a few dollars for coming up with a story like that!

  14. Istrebitel says:

    Apparently if you have close ties to Ebay, you can have their customer service look through their archives ;) Cheers from Mother Russia, Zia….I mean….Istrebitel

  15. Josh_Todd says:

    Drew Eric Whitman would be proud.

  16. [...] you’re still not convinced, here’s another good example for you: this guy sold his used wetsuit for $20,000 on eBay, by writing a description that’s a little different than what you’re used to on [...]

  17. diana L says:

    Love it. This was a fun post. Thanks for sharing, Mr G

  18. Shazam says:

    Copywriting or being authentic?

    Most people want authenticity cause we’re all phony and full of crap that’s why we love Paris Hilton and Lorenzo Green.

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    I am appreciating on this article.

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