Consumers can laugh with — or at — your product. As long as they’re buying it. That’s the lesson that the makers of The Snuggie have learned. The sleeved blanket manufacturer created a tongue in cheek add that went viral online. And now the band Weezer has joined the cult.

Frontman Rivers Cuomo told RollingStone that Weezer will release its own branded Snuggie called the Wuggie, to coincide with the release of its new album. The news is good for the Snuggie, and also has a lesson for other sleeved blanket manufacturers (there are a few).

The Snuggie was not the first to come up with this idea. In fact,
they were at least third to market with a product that combined the warmth
of a blanket with the sleeves of a sweater. Creators of The Slanket and the Freedom Blanket both vie for that claim.

But not many people realized they had been trapped by the limitations of blankets and sweaters until Snuggie ads appeared on TV.

Scott Boilen, president and CEO of Snuggie maker Allstar Marketing Group, told The New York Times: “We thought if we could put a clever commercial behind it and offer it at a better value price, then people would buy it.”

And he was right. All-Star created a vaguely absurd ad for television to tout the benefits of Snuggie usage at home. Whether it was purposely silly or not, the company embraced what came afterwards. Hundreds of parody videos populated YouTube, Snuggie mentions bombarded Twitter, and Snuggie pub crawls invaded the country.

All-Star spent over $10 million on television ads, which are usually a loss leader for months until the benefits of the “As Seen on TV!” tagline can be reaped in store sales. But the Snuggie was profitable before it hit
shelves. And by January, All-Star had sold over 4 million Snuggies.

Now there are even more imitators. Among them are the Sealpelt, the Peekaru, and the Lippi Selk bag and — as of this week — the Wearable Towel, proving the popularity of ironic kitsch today. 

But while the other manufacturers may be kicking themselves that they didn’t think of the kitsch themselves, they can’t be too upset about it, since the increased Snuggie attention also helped them. Slanket’s revenue of $4.2 million in 2008 is projected to grow to as much as $9 million in 2009, according to the Times.

And while there are proprietary issues between the Snuggie, the Slanket, and the Freedom Blanket. There is no question about the origins of the Wuggie. Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo told Rolling Stone: “The people at Snuggie are doing it with us and promoting it with us. It’s a totally legit Snuggie.”

Photo: Getty