Rich Wanket on Viral Marketing Gone Wrong


In a personal interview via email, Rich Wanket, the author of the infamous "masturbation ad" that is making the rounds of the Internet, discusses the ad, Edina Realty and the publicity that he's gotten as a result.

The Ad

Wanket did not initially think that the ad would be a problem when he started the ad campaign in early July 2010.

“Regarding why I did not clear the ad before I ran it: I was never given any indication that I needed to. I circulated that ad to other Realtors and staff in my office—the feedback I got wa [sic] its “out there” but go for it.”

Unfortunately, Edina Realty’s response would indicate otherwise.

Wanket's initial goal is familiar to many people who are looking to establish themselves in their sales field.

"One of the major objectives of any salesperson is to get name recognition. I have a funny name and I thought I would use it to my advantage…. I have been saddled, so to speak, with this name for 40 years and I might as well get some use out of it.”

Despite comments that range from “awesome” to “creepy” on various sites around the Internet, Wanket said that his experience has been largely positive.

“The major reaction has been positive, about the ad, and about my name. I have had some obscene responses—people are idiots…but mostly it has been affirmation. I have had hundreds of calls and texts and I try to answer every one. –waiting for the inevitable call from a relative. Or to hear about it on Letterman.”

The idea for the ad – other than Wanket’s own name – came from a surprising source:

“[T]he line about real estate masturbation came from a line my broker uttered.”

Wanket is not planning any further ads, having left the real estate industry (at least temporarily) in September 2010. However, he remains enthusiastic about this kind of advertising.

“I am not planning any other ads, however I would not hesitate to post another ad.”

Who is Rich Wanket?

Meanwhile the testimonies for Wanket’s character and personality continue to roll in on City Pages.

get a sense of humor. he had the guts to go out on a limb and make fun of his own name and piss off Edina Realty in the process. i would hire the guy.

I worked with Rich at Trader Joe's and he was the best manager I ever worked with. Anyone who worked with him or worked for him and thinks he is a "jerk off" is just bitter because he held them accountable for doing their job.

I also worked with Rich at Trader Joe's and M L is right- best manager I have ever worked under. He was a leader, not just a boss, and there is a big difference. He's a wonderful man with a great sense of humor. He's like family to me. And anyone who thinks he's a "jerk-off" must not have known him very well.

Wanket has also weighed in:

I quit Real Estate in Late August--before the ad was picked up and went viral.

The real estate industry is a farce. It's is a bunch of people claiming to to all of these things to sell someones home or help find a home. the fact is that the only thing that sells a home is Price. And with regard to finding a home--every real estate agent has the same information regarding inventory as any person with access to the internet.

One pays a real estate agent for four things. To minimize risk, to prepare a home for sale, to prepare paper work, and to negotiate the sale.

Real Estate ads are usually a bunch of hype about how great a particular real estate agent is.
All I wanted to say in my ad was that I would do the work, i wouldn't just hang out and wait to get paid. If your agent sits on his/her butt waiting for their check at closing, well then you might as well do it to speak. There are plenty agencies/sites designed to do just that.

Agents often say, among themselves, that it cost money to sell someones home--it does, but far less than one might think. The real cost in real estate, to the agent, is in advertising--not advertising your home, but advertising themselves. Its kind of smarmy--but it is after all sales. In an effort to get my name known I wrote that ad--in July. Even though I quit R.E. in August, I had paid for the ad to run through September, so it ran.

I liked the idea of working in R.E. for one reason. I wanted to help people achieve their goals as they related to buying or selling a home. I got a lot of satisfaction from my previous career--retail management--through the success of others. Sure money is nice, and pays for things one wants and needs, but, seeing the success of others through my efforts on their behalf allows me to sleep at night...

I would have made a great agent for some people because I am willing to tell it like it is regardless the impact on my wallet...saving people valuable time and money. If you have a R.E. agent who does this--listen to them. Those are the agents you can trust. Thank you.

And Wanket’s ad? It’s still going strong; the blog Stuff About Minneapolis has registered 901 notes about it and people continue to reblog the image around the Internet.

There are still people claiming that Rich Wanket is a fake and that the ad is a hoax. However, Rich Wanket is real and can be contacted at (email posted with permission).


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Wow...Talk about Viral marketing! I hope this guy gets some clients out of his "unique" advertising with all the attention he is getting. I wonder how it would be to have a name like that. I mean, you can'r really blame him as I'm sure he's been hearing everything in the book since his childhood. He probably went to far with the ad in my opinion, but I do commend his "cojones" to do it! ~lol

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