Special topic today. Sometimes I discuss animatedly with a friend of mine, Hugo, who is a big fan of horror movies (poor Hugo!!). He saw them practically everyone and he doesn’t miss one when he goes out to the cinema.

Instead I don’t understand the difference between a horror movie and a car accident: you get hurt and that’s it. But why should you also pay to torture yourself for two hours to see something that makes you afraid?

In one of our speeches, Hugo told me about something that I, in my abysmal ignorance of the sector, was completely ignorant of: the ouja board. Became famous in cheerful films such as “The Exorcist” and used from there as if it were bread in that wooonderful film sector.

He asserted, tenaciously, that it was a so-called divinatory instrument with which one can speak with the dead and / or unspecified spirits of other worlds during seances.

In practice it is a wooden tablet on which the letters of the alphabet are drawn, the numbers from 0 to nine, the words “goodbye”, “yes” and “no” and some symbols. Above the table there is an indicator that the “dead” would use to “talk” to us alive through a self-styled medium. How? Simple: all the participants (including the medium’s crafty) put a finger on the indicator that magically “moves” composing words of complete meaning.

The mediums use it to fool the gullible and there is a scientific study that has shown that the table is useless if the participants are blindfolded. Obviously!

Now … I leave you my devastating thoughts on the thing and tell you what I discovered, as it is a real marketing lesson.

History teaches us that this cabbage tablet was invented in China several centuries ago and had a very slow spread in more or less the whole globe. It was used as “automatic writing” in what would technically be called “ideomotor effect” (pseudoscience of the current of spiritualism).

It seems that the name ouija derives from the union of two words: “oui” in French and “ja” in German, which both mean “yes”.

In the same documents of those who created it it was said that it could not be possible to distinguish between truly unconscious writing and simple suggestion. An overwhelming conclusion. But they were not to blame: they did it with the intent to experiment, experiment failed, stop. They couldn’t know what would come out a thousand years later!

They could not know Mr. Elija Bond. Who was this man? But the one who patented the ouija table!! Yes, because this guy back in 1890 (here the link to his patent) decided that with this stupidity he should make money over it. And he succeeded great.

He went to the patent office and said he wanted to patent a tool to talk to the dead. Obviously the official replied that proof was needed that the instrument was working in order to release the patent and promptly Bond said that he and his partner would “contact a deceased relative of the official and would ask the spirit through the table ouija the name of the official himself “.

After such a proposal I would have kicked him and thrown him out, but the official made him do this test and was so impressed that he immediately released the patent. But did it take so long to understand that the barker had previously researched information about him? Obviously yes. In fact, on the patent he did not even write any actual explanation of the operation of that nonsense! He simply wrote: ‘the involuntary motion of the hands of the players or through some other agency’.

The only case in the patent history that protects “no one knows what”….

It is precisely here that the point that can interest us as a marketer lies. It is from that aura of mystery and magic that the “phenomenon” ouija was born. What was the trigger? He used a different “angle” to sell the same product that had been sold for a thousand years. But he also had the great idea of presenting it both as a game and as a divinatory instrument.

Moreover, you must also think that in that historical period the spiritualist movement was infecting the US massively and he was able to ride the wave only by using a different way of seeing the same thing. The exact same thing that for centuries had been sold identically.

But Bond made the real money. Keep it in mind when creating your next infoproduct because it will make the difference between a simple launch and a product that will leave a mark. Even if it were the same as all the other infoproducts out there.

In all this, however, it must be remembered that the Catholic Church and an infinite number of other religious currents have largely condemned the Ouija table and its use. They say it’s anything but a game: it’s dangerous and it’s a practice to talk to evil spirits.

Even in New Mexico in 2001 a fundamentalist group burned ouija boards and Harry Potter books as “symbols of witchcraft”.

Now I say, without reaching these extremes, here we have:

  1. something that is already known to not work.

  2. religious institutions have condemned it.

  3. it is said that contact with demons is at risk.

Whatever my friend Hugo says, in practice it’s like a horror movie: why hurt yourself ??