You know by now that I have a particular fondness for the small towns. I’ve talked about a couple of towns on Route 66 that were displaced by Interstate 40 and today I want to talk about how some of them fought back using Muffler Men.
Let’s be sure we’re on the same page with exactly what’s a Muffler Man. It’s not discarded auto parts that have been welded into artful configurations. While a true Muffler Man originally held car parts including mufflers for the auto repair shops that erected them, they’re made of fiberglass and stand between 18-25 feet tall.
The little towns started buying and modifying them to represent something about the area. A sausage factory or hot dog joint might place a bratwurst in the Muffler Man’s hands while other Muffler Men have been used to attract attention to camp grounds and all manner of roadside attractions.
Imagine yourself flying along Interstate 40 and seeing a billboard advertising a hot dog stand. How un-compelling is that? Now, same scenario with a Muffler Man holding a hot dog–irresistible!
Make the proper Muffler Man identification
My favorite website–and the finest site on the interwebs–Roadside America kindly provides us with a chart so that you can avoid the social embarrassment of mis-identifying a Muffler Man. The first thing you look for is the placement of the hands; both are out front with one palm up and the other palm down as they would be if they were holding a muffler. The three three varieties are the cowboy, brave and Bunyan (as in Paul).
I encountered a cowboy varietal Muffler Man en route from Billings, Montana toRed Lodge on Route 212 in Fort Rockvale outside a casino. Holding a rifle in his properly-configured hands, he had the standard “lantern jaw” and blocky shoes prescribed by Roadside America.
Looking at this Muffler Man, you get the logic of using him instead of a billboard, which is the epitome of tackiness as it fades and peels. Oh, the dignity of a Muffler Man!
Today, as you plan your day, perhaps you’ll go to Roadside America and search for a Muffler Man near you. As a matter of fact, please do that. If you find one, dash over there and get a picture of yourself with him and send it to me! I’d love to make a mosaic of everyone who listens to my podcast or who reads my blog with their Muffler Men.
Admit it, wouldn’t you like to see such a mosaic?
Life lesson from Muffler Men marketing? Fun sells. Have some fun today, ok?