Quick one for a summer Friday and then we can all get back to the beach or backyard or ball game.
If you have been in New York City's Times Square in the last decade or so, you've probably seen a crowd gather around this guy ---->
Known as 'The Naked Cowboy', (real name Robert Burck), the Cowboy strolls the square, singing, posing for pictures, and otherwise working the crowd for donations in what has to be called a clever and certainly unusual way to make a living.
I've seen the Cowboy many times over the years, and while for me, and this is not a knock on the Cowboy really, the novelty has kind of worn off and I think the entire gimmick is silly, he still seems to be getting it done with the crowds of tourists and out of town business folks that make up most of the people in Times Square on any given day.
You'd think that his angle, parading around Times Square in a pair of speedos and boots, playing guitar and singing songs, and doing it for over 10 years, would have pretty much locked up the market for this sort of thing for the Cowboy, and probably allowed him to feel some security and perhaps even a little bit of complacency, secure in the fact that his act was/is so out there that no one else would be able or interested to get in the game. Heck, after a while I bet he stopped learning new songs or jokes for the crowd, because like any good monopolist, why keep innovating when you've locked up the market?
Well, according to the UPI, the Cowboy might not have the range all too himself any more, enter the 'Naked Indian'. See right---->
Same schtick, same angle, different guy, (slightly) different costume, now battling the Cowboy for the hearts, minds, and wallets of the tourists, (as well as potentially battling the Cowboy in court).
From the UPI story:
The Cowboy, Robert Burck, who has been playing guitar and singing in his underwear and cowboy hat in Times Square for years, now has a rival in the Indian, Adam Davis, the New York Daily News reported Saturday.
Burck, who said there are no ill feelings between him and Davis, has nonetheless threatened to sue Davis if he refuses to join Burck’s company, Naked Cowboy Enterprises, a franchise that features Naked Cowgirls and other entertainers.
“I’ve been here ... 365 days, every day for 13 years and change,” Burck said. “He’s only been here 16 days and missed two already.”
Davis, who dons underwear and a headdress, said there is room in the busy tourist area for more gimmicks.
Hard to say how the dueling naked entertainers will get this resolved, but the whole sordid, (and sad), story reminds us all that no matter how unique or unusual your idea or angle is, chances are if it works it's going to be copied. It might take a while for the 'second to market' folks to get there, but if you're only advantage over them is yelling 'I was here first', well for most customers that argument won't mean much or ensure you can hold on to your market.
If there is someone out there willing to copy the Naked Cowboy, there definitely is someone out there willing to steal your gimmick as well.
Better learn some new songs this weekend.