Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale is known for his balls-to-the-wall promotional tactics and guerrilla marketing, but his latest gamble, a wager on the presidential election, is a true accomplishment. After all, it's not everyone who could lose $10 million and make it seem like a triumph, but that's why not everybody is McIngvale.
His wily and wildly entertaining approach to promotion is a gift to us all. It's why those glorious commercials of Mack wearing a mattress costume and shouting as if he's on a whole lot of uppers exist in the first place — to be crazy memorable (and a little crazy) and to get people to buy from Gallery Furniture.
Over the years Mack has displayed Princess Diana's jewels and Elvis Presley artifacts and has done a plethora of other gambits to get attention and publicity for his business, but nothing has compared to the huge promotional bets he makes with his customers.
There were the ones he made over the 2014 Super Bowl. First, he gave customers who correctly guessed Denver and Seattle would be in the Super Bowl about $700,000 in furniture, free. Then he upped the ante and said that any customer who picked which team would win and spent $6,000 in furniture before 5 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday would get a full refund. And then, he paid out about $7 million in refunds.
In 2015 he wagered again, this time with oil prices. Mack said that anyone who bought $7,000 worth of furniture would get his money back if oil hit $85 per barrel again before the end of 2015. In that case he didn't have to pay out. (To be fair, this was a much better bet for him, since the chances of oil shooting back up after it had dropped like a rock months before were not high.)
But maybe the win-win promotion got him a little too confident. Or, you know, maybe McIngvale knows that no press is bad press, and that even a loss can thus still be a win. Either way, this time around he told customers if they bought a mattress priced at $2,000 or more and correctly chose the political party that would win the election, they'd get a refund or receive even more money in store credit.
People took the gamble, and Donald Trump's win has now cost McIngvale more than $10 million.
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The offer rules went as follows: “If the party you pick wins this coming November 2016, you have the option to receive a 100 percent refund on your mattress set purchase, making it FREE, or 150 percent of your purchase price value in the form of a Gallery Furniture gift certificate to be used towards your next purchase."
So a lot of people made that bet and a number of them are probably pretty happy right now. At the same time this has got to be rough for the Democrats. The people who thought Hillary Clinton would win spent about $13 million on furniture, according to the Houston Business Journal.
All things considered, though, Mack has pulled off an impressive feat. Sure, he's going to have to pay out about $10 million to customers, but on the upside, there's $13 million that he's not going to be refunding.
He may come off as nutty, but he's crazy like a fox, or the roadkill that has been masquerading as Donald Trump's hair all these years.