He was single — a cigarette-smoking, beer-guzzling, epithet-spitting car mechanic. She was a church-going mother of five who missed her kids.
How did they end up in the same bed?
It all started with 20 people. Some were lying down, others were sitting up, while the rest of them sat on the floor and leaned against the waterbed. Nobody knew each other.
The rules were simple: The person with the longest continuous contact with the bed won the entire waterbed suite, valued at $3,000.
The contestants received an hourly five-minute break to use the restroom or to walk around. If they were late from their break, they were out. We catered the meals. A broadcast loop was installed next to the bed, so we could put them on-air whenever we wanted.
Little did we know the action would go on and on … and on.
The event attracted two full-page newspaper stories and coverage on every local TV newscast. After nine-and-a-half days, “Good Morning America” called to express interest in a live shot from the store the next morning. But even that level of attention was not enough to keep both final contestants in bed until the next day.
Earth Mother bolted, and the single guy celebrated with a six-pack.
Here’s what I learned: 1) Marathons are fun because they’re unpredictable; 2) The way you paint a picture with the contestants’ character traits can make a great story on-air and in other media; 3) Furniture stores will buy promotions.
La-Z is good
With reality TV still doing so well, don’t forget the furniture! Aside from a bed marathon, check out these ideas:
La-Z-Boy Sundays: Put four contestants in La-Z-Boys in front of TVs at a furniture store. Provide them with beer and snacks from a sponsor. Have them bet on a series of games over four Sundays. Eliminate one each week.
The winner takes home the La-Z-Boy, the TV and his weight in beer. Have them on the morning show throughout the week to discuss strategy.
Sleeping Around: Choose 10 couples to come to a mattress store. Blindfold the men while the women try out every bed until they pick their favorite. Then blindfold the women while the men pick their favorite.
The couple who picks the same mattress wins it. In case of a tie, whichever couple can stay awake the longest wins.
Bedside Manor: Have a character from your morning show move into one of those furniture showroom model bedroom set-ups for a week — and don’t allow them to leave the store. Write up a plot line of what you want to happen to them during their stay.
Furniture for a Cause: You might be surprised at how many people in your audience will volunteer to make furniture, to be sold for a cause. Have these handcrafted pieces taken to a furniture store for a one-day sale that solely benefits the selected charity. You can sell each piece with a set price, or do an auction.
Dealing in Dining Rooms: Play a day of Texas Hold ’Em around every dining room table in the store. Have contestants make a donation to charity to participate. The winner takes home the dining room set at which he is playing.
The World’s Largest Yard Sale: Furniture stores typically have large parking lots. Invite your listeners to bring all of their second-hand stuff to a huge annual yard sale you do in the lot.
Charge a nominal entry fee per table, the proceeds of which go to charity. Individuals get to keep their profits. If the furniture store is smart, they’ll provide free refreshments and a huge sale inside.
TV Marathon Weekend: Find a furniture store with a gazillion TV sets and show a certain TV show on all the screens at the same time — like a “Lost” weekend marathon. Include free popcorn and drinks. Everyone who stays for the entire time is eligible to win an HD set.
One of the earliest sight gags on the tube was watching Dick Van Dyke take his weekly tumble over a misplaced ottoman. Just try going a day without furniture! It’s everywhere — waiting for you to do something funny with it.