Believe it or not, The Rapture worked. Here’s why.

At 6:01 PM this past Saturday, something incredible happened.


Despite the certantity of the, ahem, “prophet” Harold Camping, that the world was going to end on date-night, it just didn’t.  (If you were in NYC in the ’90s, then you know–this was not the first time Camping and his minions believed that their days were numbered.  The world was supposed to end in September of ’94 as well.  Breaking News:  it didn’t.)

So for Camping, epic fail right?

Well, maybe.  Unless . . .

Let’s look at it from a marketing perspective.

First, the idea spread like wildfire under a gasoline sprinkler.

But going deeper . . . what if Camping wasn’t just selling crazy?  What if his goal was to encourage his followers (and any new followers) to get closer to God?  Well, if you believed in rapture . . . and if you believed in Camping’s ranting . . . uh, I mean, rapture . . . what have you spent the last several months doing?

My bet is that you amped up the volume of your conversations with the Big Guy.  Maybe you even tried to lead a better life.  After all, you were facing judgement, right?

So could he actually have been successful in achieving his goals?  (I mean, this is the 2nd time he’s done this – maybe he’s just recycling a strategy – and since he convinced people to believe him again, maybe he thinks he can do it over and over and over.)

Let me make something so clear it’s like those windows that people walk into because they don’t see the glass:  I think Camping was a looney-bird that had eaten a worm full of crazy.  And I actually don’t think he was smart enough to consider the strategy above.

But, there is a lesson here.

Sometimes getting a consumer to do what you want them to do means talking about something else entirely.  The rapture was pure pain vs. pleasure marketing, taking advantage of the two forces that drive all of human behavior.

Just be careful how you employ these strategies, because if you fail like Camping, you’re going to be faced with quite a customer service problem.

Can you imagine what his followers were saying at 6:02?  I’d be demanding a refund, that’s for sure.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.