THE MARKETING 100; ALAN RYPINSKI;POG

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When Alan Rypinski bought the trademark to a popular Hawaiian game called Pog in September 1993, the word was virtually unknown on the U.S. mainland.

By the end of last year, Pog was a household name with kids in California, New York, Pennsylvania and parts of the Midwest, and the game that got its start during the Great Depression is now seeping into Florida and other states, too.

"Within six months, 80% of kids in this country will be familiar with it," says Mr. Rypinski, 56, president-CEO of his World Pog Federation, which is marketing and licensing the game.

World Pog Federation's sales from April to December of last year reached $22 million and Mr. Rypinski estimates $200 million by year's end.

The game is similar to marbles but played with poker-like chips or discs that originally came from the lids of bottles of milk and juice. Players throw a heavier disc called a slammer at a stack of milk caps; points are given for discs turned over.

The name Pog comes from a brand of passion fruit, orange and guava juice sold by the Haleakala Dairy, whose colorful bottle caps were popular with children. Mr. Rypinski bought the rights to the Pog trademark from the dairy (Haleakala retains a 14% share of WPF).

An entrenpreneur who founded Armor All (and later sold the company to McKesson Corp.), Mr. Rypinski knew that Pog had great promotional potential.

For two weeks in spring '94, WPF gave away nearly 300,000 Pogs to kids at Disneyland, and another 5 million later that summer during a two-month promotion with Coca-Cola Co. and Del Taco, a California-based Mexican fast-food chain. WPF also established a summerlong Pog tournament at Knott's Berry Farm. In December, WPF linked with McDonald's Corp. for a promotion using Power Ranger Pogs as premiums.

Up next: A Mattel Pog Fun Barbie, Milton Bradley boxed Pog games and LA Gear Pog shoes and sandals.

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