Here’s something to give even Goop’s “bio-frequency healing” stickers a run for the money of various rubes: A Canadian man successfully sold slickly marketed bottles of water with hot dogs in them as a miraculous cure-all for whatever ails customers at exorbitant prices.
Per Yahoo News and Insider, at Vancouver’s Car-Free Day festival earlier this month, attendees happily bought $38 bottles of unfiltered Hot Dog Water marketed with bullshit claims it could “help restore the body’s homeostasis after a electrolyte imbalance” as well as help users “lose weight—increase brain function—look younger—increase vitality.”
“Self-styled Hot Dog Water CEO Douglas Bevans,” who is actually a tour operator and artist, told Global News that the obviously falsified claims were part of an intentional, good-natured awareness-raising stunt and “really sort of a commentary on product marketing, and especially sort of health-quackery product marketing.” Labels on the bottles segued from a rambling anecdote about the water’s supposed origin in a 50,000-year-old, lava rock-filtered spring to fine print reading “Hot Dog Water in its absurdity hopes to encourage critical thinking related to product marketing and the significant role it can play in our purchasing choices.”
But some people that failed to catch on to the joke soon found themselves walking away with a bottle of meat-infused H2O and a lot less cash on hand.
Per Insider, it seems like Bevans’ snake oil salesman impression was spot on:
Hot Dog Water, unfiltered, promises to be Keto compatible, help you lose weight, increase your brain function, make you look younger, and improve your vitality.
Hot Dog Water CEO Douglas Bevans told Global News, “the protein of the Hot Dog Water helps your body uptake the water content, and the sodium and all the things you’d need post-workout.”
He added, “We’ve created a recipe, having a lot of people put a lot of effort into research and a lot of people with backgrounds in science creating the best version of Hot Dog Water that we could.”
It worked, too. Bevans told Global News that he spent around $1,200 on the stunt before counting $500 in grants, but that sales were strong: “They’ve been drinking it for hours. We have gone through about 60 litres of real hot dog water.” According to the Times Colonist, he also offered other hot dog-infused products like lip balm that attracted a similar customer interest:
“We noticed that some people were rubbing lip balm on their crow’s feet and they were swearing their crow’s feet were disappearing before their eyes,” he said.
One man who rubbed the lip balm on his “dome” sent him photos suggesting it promoted hair growth, Bevans said.
“I think we all feel particularly vulnerable in this era of pseudo-scientific health claims and the targeted marketing of social media,” Bevans told Ad Age via Twitter. “The message is the next time you have the urge to buy the latest quantum toilet paper or Gwyneth’s magical health stickers, take a moment to reflect and ask yourself, is this Hot Dog Water?”
In any case, the only things that seem to stand between Hot Dog Water and potentially limitless profit are ethics, venture capital, and maybe also waterborne pathogens. Those are solvable obstacles, though, as proven by the continued success of the rich idiots responsible for “raw water.”