Pete Hottelet has never believed in doing work that doesn’t make you happy. So when he got the idea to take a fictional product from one of his favorite movies and turn it into the real deal, he went for it. Hottelet, a graphic designer based in Oakland, CA, is the founder of Omni Consumer Products, a company that specializes in "defictionalization." What exactly does that involve, you ask? Just what it sounds like: Hottelet takes products from movies and TV shows that don’t actually exist in the real world, and, well, makes them exist.
Hottelet’s first product, which launched in November 2007, was Brawndo, the supercharged energy drink from the cult comedy Idiocracy. It was a huge success — especially among young male gamers, surprise! — because of its tie-in to the movie, its massive caffeine content (the equivalent of about four cans of Mountain Dew, Hottelet says), and the fact that it actually tastes good. A year later, Hottelet launched Sex Panther cologne from the movie Anchorman ("60 percent of the time, it works every time"). And he doesn’t plan to stop there.
To see what Hottelet has to say about where he got his ideas, how he made them work, and why he thinks everyone should be doing what they love,
On where the idea came from and how he made it happen:
"Sort of the a-ha moment was, I was reading something about the red stapler from Office Space, and how it didn’t exist before Office Space. Swingline only sold a black stapler or silver — just regular colors. Definitely not a red one, because gosh, who’s going to buy a red stapler? Then it was just figuring out the details. . . . I just started making phone calls. I mean, I’m just some guy with an idea, and they don’t know who you are. No one knows who you are. But you’ve got to just get ahold of the right people, and present your idea well."
On what the reaction has been to his products so far:
"The reaction has been really fantastic to everything I’ve done. People really appreciate the humor of it, and not just the humor, but the fact that they’re real products. I started doing this because it was a fun idea, but the best part of this whole thing is when people try it, and their faces just light up. There is no replacement for that at all."
On creating surprisingly high-quality products:
"I think a really key thing that makes this work is, I don’t care what the cost of goods is. I really don’t. What’s most important is producing something that is good that people will enjoy interacting with. You have to spend that much less effort convincing people that it’s good, because it is good. So I don’t have to sell anybody on anything. I wouldn’t be happy with just taking people’s money. I think that’s absolutely the wrong way to go about it — producing garbage and taking people’s money, that’s fail."
On how much he loves his job — and why he thinks you should love yours, too:
"I look at it as, if your work and your play is the same thing, then that’s the absolute best scenario you can come up with. My day consists of doing exactly what I want to do. And it is a lot of work, but I enjoy every drop of everything I do. I think a lot of times people hold onto things that don’t make them happy, but they’re comfortable with them, and I think that’s a mistake. I think the world would be an amazing place if more people did what they wanted to do instead of what they felt like they were supposed to do."
Image courtesy Pete Hottelet