Most Interactive Promo Item Ever


Josie Leavitt - March 29, 2016

I got the mail yesterday on my way out for lunch. I wasn’t intending to go¬†back in to the store until after I’d picked up my lunch, but something very curious made me head right to the store with the mail. No, there wasn’t a large check that needed immediate depositing. No, there wasn’t a personal note from a customer saying thanks for a great book recommendation. But rather, there was a coconut. Or what seemed like a coconut. I walked back into the store smiling and shaking the mail. It’s not every day that we get an unwrapped fruit in the mail. The coconut had a label on it that said, “Can you mail a coconut?” This was either a genius marketing idea from National Geographic or the strangest thing to ever arrive via USPS.
National Geographic was responsible for mailing said item. They were announcing their new series of kids’ books called Real or Fake? So, now I was totally curious. Was this a real coconut? Or some very clever imitation? I shook the mail and it rattled in a way that indicated there might be liquid inside. Okay, so that seemed like it could be a IMG_5446real coconut. But the outside seemed to look like brownish paper. Admittedly, living in Vermont, I do not encounter coconuts on a regular basis, so I really couldn’t tell if this was a coconut or a very clever prank.
Curiosity got the best of me and I started to open the coconut. First thing I noticed was whatever this was, it was a complex, multi-layered item that would need more time to open than I had planned. So, I took off my jacket; clearly I would be going to lunch later. I’ve created a photo montage of the coconut opening that involves not only tools, but the help of the butcher at the meat market next door.

How hard can this be?

How hard can this be?


Sure sounds like a coconut. Notice the screw driver, this was going to require tools.

Sure sounds like a coconut.


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Mike, the butcher, gets out the cleaver and a steel.


After 15 minutes of using the cleaver, Mike finally opened the coconut. So, yes, you can mail a coconut. In all my years of bookselling, I have never spent so much time opening a publisher’s promotional item. Often when I get promos they have glitter or raffia, but never have I had to use cleavers to open them. I must say, though: never has there been a promo so exotic or so yummy. And yes, I will be ordering these books!
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