How One Guy Sold the World on an $80 Used Tissue


– Zuckerberg started Facebook in a dorm. Snowden exposed the NSA in a hotel. I’m a comedian who’s been fired
from many social media jobs, so what can I accomplish if I’m locked in a room for one week with just an internet connection
and a thousand dollars? This is Control Room. So, welcome to Control Room. The challenge for this episode is start an alternative medicine
company from inside this room. Now if you guys don’t know, alternative medicine companies,
there’s a ton of them, but I’m gonna talk about
two, Goop and LiveWater. And I wanna tell you guys about these, but I have to do it in a special segment called My Viacom Approved Opinions. Just a little bit of background on this. Viacom, the parent
company of Comedy Central, hates this project. They hate everything about it. Just in prep for the PowerPoint
that I’m showing you now, they sent me 257 emails about things I am not allowed to say. One of the last ones
was this that just said, it is our opinion that the creative team should either change course or stop development of this project. And most of the other emails were about Gwyneth Paltrow or Goop, and how I should not mention
them under any circumstance. So in the segment, I am
obligated to keep it positive. So first, I wanna talk to
you guys about LiveWater. If you don’t know,
LiveWater is unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water. Heres one of their jugs from
Instagram, which I like. I think that that’s good. That’s great. They sell a 2.5-gallon jug for 36.99. Here’s their real website. And people had a lot to say about this. This guy said, “Without water treatment, there’s acute and chronic risks.” Stuff like E. coli bacteria,
viruses, parasites, and we don’t have that because of our very efficient water treatment process. But what does this guy know? He’s just the Director of
the Healthy Living Program at the Mayo Clinic, so probably an idiot. I instead choose to believe, again, the brilliancy of the company who says, “Tap water? “You’re drinking toilet water “with birth control drugs in them.” “They’re putting in fluoride. “It’s a mind-control drug that has “no benefit to our dental health.” And who would be more in touch with nature and the human body than this man who, even in this press photo, is staring directly into the sun? And so now, I wanna talk about Goop. And I gotta be careful, but I’m just gonna point a couple things out, keep it real straightforward. This is Goop’s very slick, very cool logo. That’s important to remember later when I’m building my company. And then I wanna talk to
you about some of their, these are real products that are for sale on the Goop website. This is their Aromatic Stress Treatment. You can pick this up for 80 bucks and you get .16 ounces! This is their Psychic Vampire Repellent. I thought that it was
weird how they included instructions on how to use this as if it’s not obvious
that this is a product which you spray around the aura to protect from psychic attack. That’s clearly what it’s for. They have Chill Child, Kid Calming Mist. That’s 27 bucks. And under almost all of the
products on the website, not all, but almost all, there’s this cool disclaimer that says, these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. And I don’t think that
there’s anything wrong with me putting these
images next to each other. I don’t think there’s
anything wrong with me saying that’s a great deal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me pointing to these two images and mentioning that Goop
is worth $250 million. I don’t think there’s
anything wrong with me showing Gwyneth Paltrow’s
beautiful, $10 million home, or putting this on top of it, or putting that on top of it. And that’s fine, and those are
my Viacom Approved Opinions. So again, back to the task here. My task was to start an
alternative medicine company. And what that means is I want to start and operate an actual company
that has slick branding, that seems sophisticated,
this really means European. And in order to prove how effective those marketing tactics are, I need to make sure
that the product itself has to be a gross and
dangerous piece of nonsense. So my idea for this was a used tissue that works like a vaccine, in that someone sneezes on it. And the you have the tissue. Someone else breathes that tissue in so that they get sick now and don’t get sick later. And the tissue itself costs $80. So the metrics I’m gonna use to determine whether this experiment is a success is do people believe it? Will people use it? And do people like it? So the first thing I needed was a brand. And I used the Haagen Dazs Method. The Haagen Dazs Method, if you don’t know, is when you take a product
that’s not Danish at all and you give it a Danish
name so it seems cooler. So I went on Google Translate. I typed in tissue and it came
out Vaev, and I’m like yeah, obviously that’s the
name of the company now. Are you serious? That’s perfect! What?
– Whoo! – And then I hit up my buddy
who’s a graphic designer and told him about the whole thing, told him I was locked in a room, and he sent over these mock ups. I picked this one. And so that’s the logo for the company. And I wanted a slick package. And you guys have seen those
knockoff iPhone boxes, right? They look pretty much like the
real thing, but they’re fake? Turns out, you can get
those on the internet custom made for 50 cents a piece. So I did that and it looks good. And then I was in the room. I ordered a bunch of Petri
dishes off of Amazon, some Kleenexes that I just
balled up, never sneezed on. And I started putting
these things together with stickers and gold tape
that I got from a craft store all delivered to the room. So this is the logo on
the little unit thing. On the back, we see the same warning from the Goop products. On the side, you can see into it. You see this quote, quote, “used tissue” and some of our nice gold tape. It also has instructions
in English and Danish. It comes with two of these cool stickers that say blessed you on them. It’s our little tagline. It’s like Apple. Oh, and also it has this
trashcan on the back. I don’t know what that
means or what it is, but I feel like it’s on a lot of products, so it makes it look more legit. So I put a bunch of these together, and when it was all said
and done and taken care of, this product cost me $2 to make. So I’m selling them for 80 is the idea, but I needed marketing materials. Any good company has them. So again, I’m locked in a room so I spent a little bit of
time writing a commercial, and then I went online and found out that I can get a casting room. And you can get it for like $34. I put out an ad on LA casting for people to audition for this. People came in to play these roles in the commercial I wrote. And then to save money, I
pulled every favor I could and I sent buddies of
mine that make videos and stuff like that to my
buddy’s garage in Silver Lake and they set up a shitty studio thing in the garage where they did everything they could to shoot this commercial. And I directed the entire
thing on FaceTime in the room. And this is the commercial we made. – [Narrator] You tear your
muscles to become stronger. You learn to fall to become a dancer. You callous your fingers
to become a musician. Why is your immune system any different? Introducing a tissue powered by the human body, for the human body. This flu season, keep your immune system feeling like your immune system. Vaev. – So that’s the commercial. So once all that was put together, I distilled everything down
to a Squarespace website, and it took like 15 minutes to set up. It cost 18 bucks, super cheap. And I also marked the
product sold out on the store so that it would seem that there was this incredible demand for the
thing that doesn’t exist. Then I created a Twitter account, bought some followers, and I used that to announce all day long that
we just ran out of stock. We sold out again, and also to retweet any article that had something to do with Sean Parker so that people thought he had
something to do with this. And he doesn’t but, that’s kinda cool. You can just do that if you want. It’s easy. Then I set up this Instagram page that has one of these splashy grid things. I mean, it’s bullshit but
it looks cool I think. Spent like 50 bucks buying some followers and included our other little tagline, a tissue unlike any you’ve #UsedBefore. So now I had a website, a Twitter
account, and an Instagram. So once it was all in place, I was like I need a focus group to tell me if people like this, right? So I went on Craigslist
and I searched like hey. I made a post. Does anybody wanna come by
and do this focus group? I went online and found out that you can rent a legit-looking focus group center for like 150 bucks. And then I sent a camera crew to go behind the one-way glass, film everything. I also hit up my friend, Tien Tran, who’s an amazing comedian. So the first thing that
we did was a product demo so that I could make it
clear exactly how disgusting and ridiculous this
product and this idea is, and here’s what they said. – Okay. To go back to the question,
do people like it? Yes. What? So now that I had a product that people seemed to be connecting with, I wanted to find out if
I could hire somebody. Now this would be the ultimate test of do people believe it? Would somebody think yeah, I could work for a company like that. So I went back to Craigslist
and I made a post, but I was look for
something really specific. Keep in mind, this company
has no real product, no plan, and I possibly
committing a crime. So there’s only one type that’s perfect for this situation and that is a bro. You need a bro for this, and I feel like I found a perfect bro. This guy, I’m talking about
Scotty Babbitt, AKA Blizzard. As soon as I got the
email with this resume, I knew he was our guy
because he was in not one, but two, fraternities in college. And also, under every photo, somebody had commented the word scoot. Even when he showed up,
his buttons on his shirt were buttoned incorrectly. So this was the guy. This was our guy. Now, I don’t have an
office space for this, so I hit up my buddy and asked if I could use his brother’s office. And if you have a chain of white guys hooking you up with stuff,
can you do anything you want? Yes. Is that problematic? Yes. Do I have time to get to it? No, let’s move on. The head of customer service is the job that he was interviewing for. So I brought him in for this interview and my friend Kiel, who’s a comedian, was the one interviewing him. We set up a webcam directly
in front of his face, but just said that it was for a higher up in the company to review
the interview later. So for this interview,
he’s under the impression that he’s taking real calls
from real angry customers, but what he doesn’t
know is that those real angry customers are me in the room. And the only instruction
that he’s been given is to deny everything,
and no one can sue us. And so we were like,
let’s see if he does it. So the first thing I did was called and said that my son is sick, and here is what Scott had
to say to this customer. – What? What! That happened so fast. He denied everything. And then, unprompted, he started to deny him that we, again,
never told him to deny. Here’s what happened a second
later in that interview. You can Google it! So Scott’s hired. Give it up for Scott! Wow! What? So again, back to do people believe it? Yes. What? People believe it. So kinda the last thing for me to do is find out what happens when I take this product into the world. What happens if we’ve got Vaev
out there with people, right? Will people use it? And most of the time when
companies have new products, they have a promo team go
out and hand out free units. And the truth is, I can’t
afford a promo unit like this, but what I can afford is my
girlfriend and her two friends who conveniently did used
to work for Red Bull. This really only cost me the 60 bucks to get these matching polos made. Unfortunately, the one real edge that a company like that
has is these cool cars, and obviously this is crazy expensive and I’m hocking used tissues here. What was I gonna do? Go on Amazon and get a bunch of shipping boxes and then
spray paint them black and get my friend if I can borrow his girlfriend’s MINI Cooper? I mean yes, of course
that’s what I’m gonna do. Yes. And that cost about 80 bucks in total. And then the most expensive
thing on the entire project is this photo booth that we rented. But we told people if you come in here and get a cool gif for your Instagram, you gotta use one of our used tissues. But even with all that, it
felt like there was still no way people will use
this on the street, right? – So again, will people use it? Yes. Yes, they will use it. Do people believe it? Yes. Do people like it? Frankly too much. Really, I mean. So the last thing I did, this
was my last day in the room, I was like can I get some kinda press? So I went online. I didn’t have a lot of time at all and I just Googled like, hey, is there addresses of
newspapers or whatever that I can send this to? And then I put together these envelopes with the Vaev in them. That cost me like 30 bucks for postage. It came with this little
postcard that says we’re huge fans of you and that there’s
a human sneeze in here. And it even outlined that
this is being sent by Oliver, Oliver Niessen, the fictional Danish CEO of his company that’s not real. Unfortunately I didn’t have
a lot of time in the room, so I didn’t make him a Facebook. I couldn’t make him a
LinkedIn or anything. There’s no information
about this guy anywhere. So I think that’s maybe where I messed up on this part, because
this company has no sales, no CEO that you can find anywhere online. It’s not incorporated anywhere. It’s not a real company. And a simple Google search
will reveal all that stuff. So it would have been nice to get a little clipping or something somewhere, but that is unfortunately the end, ’cause there’s no way anybody
would write about this. Right? – The world’s boldest tissue company. It’s called Vaev tissue.
– Vaev. – Vaev.
– Vaev. – Vaev.
– Vaev Tissue. – Vaev. – Vaev.
– A pre-infected. – Used tissue.
– For 80 bucks. – $80 a pop, and this
one’s apparently true. – Is this real?
– I don’t know. – [Reporter] I guess it
was in time magazine. – It’s used tissues for $80. It’s incredible. – [Reporter] Fox news says the tissues have been sold out for months now. – Tissues are in high demand. Used tissues. – You ready? – No! I can’t believe you just did that. No! – The company apparently has customers. – I wanna see those people. – This is nasty. Plain old nasty. – I would never wanna go near them. – There’s over 200 different
types of rhinovirus. Are you gonna stuff 200 different types of tissues in your nose? – It’s expensive. It’s dangerous. It’s disgusting and it won’t work, so naturally it is sold out. Introducing, Dead. You’ve contracted giardia on your terms. – [Narrator] This flu season,
keep your immune system feeling like your immune system. – Okay, I know, I know, I know! But these tissues are so popular that the company says
that they have sold out. What do you guys think? – So the question is how did this happen? So to break it down, what happened was I put those in those envelopes and the only people that got back to me, I don’t know why, was Time Magazine. And we exchanged a couple of emails, and then after I left the room, over the period of a couple of months, I did a bunch of phone interviews as the fictional Danish
CEO, Oliver Niessen. And then Time published
a seven-page writeup about this company that was packed with lies that this
CEO, whatever guy said, like a human sneeze is
safer than needles or pills. I told them that we have a stable of 10 go-to sneezers. And when they asked me whether
or not I pay the sneezers, I said I would rather not address my relationship with those people. So the headline came out
and it is a little careful. This is good journalism on the part of Mandy Oaklander at Time. She included all this information about maybe it’s real, maybe it’s not. This is a question. Is it real, right? But the problem is other journalists at every different publication who I did not speak to didn’t bother to read the seven-page Time article, and then started running
their own stories about it. They used words like virus-infested
and disease-infected. It’s crazy. Even the Time Magazine
hyperlink that they posted is way scarier than the real headline. Vaev, The $80 Used Tissue
Designed to Make You Sick. That’s terrifying! And I didn’t say anything to Time that was verifiable at all. If any of these other publications had looked into it or read it, they would have thought something beyond we’ll just run
this, but they did anyway. And the question is kind of why? And I think the answer is
it’s exciting, you know? If you’re trying to sell ads and get social engagement
and run commercials, your story doesn’t have to be true. It just has to be exciting. When Fox News posted this, their entire comment section explodes, like hundreds and then thousands of comments about this
that say stuff like, sounds like a liberal idea. And Obamacare would probably cover it. But it’s not just people that hated it. Every time another one of
these articles came out, the product itself that has no evidence of existing anywhere
online became more real. Every time something came out, I would get a ton of emails asking when we were gonna restock, or if I had a baby-strength version that you could give to your toddler. But I think that’s kinda the crazy thing. It’s like you can manipulate
the international media if you have like 900 bucks
and take one Photoshop class. You can do this. But also, please don’t do this. Don’t lie to people. It’s bad. That’s the one thing I
learned in this entire process is that I suck for doing this, you know? Even the used tissue
idea itself was divisive. People didn’t know if they hated it and wanted to leave mean comments, or if they loved it and wanted a restock. But the one thing that was perfectly clear that everyone unanimously agreed on is that I am extremely unlikeable. – Thank you so much, everyone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *