How to generate good marketing buzz

Thought mosquitoes were only good for ruining holidays? Turns out they're also a valuable sales tool...

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Sometimes even we're amazed by the kind of nonsense people are willing to buy online (and no, we're not talking about our editor's shirt collection here). A canny Chinese entrepreneur has found an extraordinary use for several thousand dead mosquitoes - they've become the latest promotional tool for his web business.  

Nin Nan, of Shanghai, says he came up with the idea when thinking about ways to attract visitors to his online jewellery store. Apparently he was surrounded by dead mosquitoes and decided to place ads for them on the web as a sales gimmick, to steer buyers towards his designs. 

Now you may think this sounds like the worst marketing idea since Ryvita asked Fern Britton to advertise sensible dieting. But remarkably, his 'brainwave' appears to be going down a storm. Nin says that within two days of posting his ads, his shop received 250,000 hits. He's already taken more than 10,000 orders for the mosquito corpses, which are currently selling for six yuan (about 45p) each. Nin, who reckons he killed each of these pesky insects himself, thinks that they might be useful for scientific study, collection, or bizarrely, decoration (someone get Ikea on the phone).

Of course, these dead mozzies are only one example of the many weird and not-very-wonderful items put up for sale on the internet. Take Australia-based Briton Ian Usher, who decided to sell his entire ‘life’ on eBay after divorcing from his wife. The package included all the material possessions he’d accumulated during his 44 years – house, car, motorbike, parachuting equipment etc – and also a two-week try-out at his job as a carpet-salesman. He received £192,000 for the whole lot.

By way of comparison, in two days the mosquito seller of Shanghai has taken orders worth at least £4,500. It’s a depressing state of affairs when you realise your life is worth only 43 times more than a medium-sized bag of dead mosquitoes.

But as for Nin, we expect his entrepreneurial career to go from strength to strength. After all, if you can sell dead mosquitoes, you can sell anything...

Also in today's bulletin:
Dump your flat-screen, save the world
Open Goals for 5-a-side operator
Builders clean up their act
MoD signs off on £3bn warships

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