Did a 1971 Mail Order KOOL Boat Pave the Way for Today's Sleek Carbon Sleds?

For just $88 and one KOOL carton end flap, you can mail order your cardboard box knock down kit. Assembly takes an hour. Hoist onto your Buick; it is "car-toppable." Enjoy your ride through the smooth puffs.

Step aboard your 11-foot expanded polystyrene, thirty-eight inch beam and .17-foot draft beauty. She boasts a weight capacity of 310 lbs. and a hull oozing with confidence, courtesy an iron-clad “unsinkable” claim. Early versions were made of one-piece injection-molded EPS (expanded polystyrene) and weighed approximately 30 lbs. Successive 50 lbs. hull designs adopted a vacuum formed layer of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, which later yielded to use of organic compound ASA or Acrylonitrile)* bonded over the EPS. Manufacturer Snark Products patented this cladding process (marketed to be stronger than fiberglass), labeling it Corelite; today trademarked Armorclad.

Your 1971 KOOL boat comes with a 16-page booklet on how to sail, plus a 1975 Popular Science article extolling this to be the least expensive and lightest sailboat on the market. You get a lateen-rigged nylon sail of 45 square feet, aluminum mast, spar, boom and wooden rudder. An integral center sleeve is molded into the hull to support the removable wood dagger board.

KOOL was cool before carbon

KOOL Success
The Snark sailboat was marketed heavily in various co-branding campaigns. According to the New York Times, in 1970 the Snark outsold all other sailboats. During an 18-month period in 1971, more than 48,000 left the factory, due largely to a mail order campaign with KOOL cigarettes. By 1973 the tally had reached 200,000+ and by 1976 and the New York Times stated the company had built more sailboats than any other manufacturer (Snark estimates nearly a half million models have been manufactured since 1958).

The mail order promotion turned out to be one of KOOL's highest scoring ads, with more than 18,000 cash orders in 1971. The campaign was repeated in 1972, this time offering a credit card payment option, and once again in 1975 with boat price $139. Industry leaders recognized the campaign by bestowing a national POPI award (Point of Purchase Institute), citing it the most creative and inventive ad of 1971.

How to be Snark Products
Snark Products, Inc. was located in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The company initially outsourced the injection molding to a company in Connecticut, but later brought that operation in-house within a new Port Clinton, Ohio, plant. Snark co-founder Jim McMullen was the marketing mind behind the KOOL cigarettes campaign.

The Snark sailboat was marketed heavily in various co-branding campaigns. According to the New York Times, in 1970 the Snark outsold all other sailboats. During an 18-month period in 1971, more than 48,000 left the factory, due largely to a mail order campaign with KOOL cigarettes. By 1973 the tally had reached 200,000+ and by 1976 and the New York Times stated the company had built more sailboats than any other manufacturer (Snark estimates nearly a half million models have been manufactured since 1958).

The mail order promotion turned out to be one of KOOL's highest scoring ads, with more than 18,000 cash orders in 1971. The campaign was repeated in 1972, this time offering a credit card payment option, and once again in 1975 with boat price $139. Industry leaders recognized the campaign by bestowing a national POPI award (Point of Purchase Institute), citing it the most creative and inventive ad of 1971.

About the Manufacturer
Snark Products, Inc. was located in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The company initially outsourced the injection molding to a company in Connecticut, but later brought that operation in-house within a new Port Clinton, Ohio, plant. Snark co-founder Jim McMullen was the marketing mind behind the KOOL cigarettes campaign.

In 1972, Snark Products was sold to advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB Worldwide). DDB subsequently sold the company to San Francisco-based Kransco. In 1996, Snark was purchased by Meyers Boat Company and production moved to Adrian, Michigan.

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby
Tacking back around, how snarky would it be to say that KOOL was cool before carbon? When drooling over the hot new hulls, such as the Pac52 at this week’s ROLEX Big Boat Series in San Francisco, maybe, just maybe you start noticing design similarities between the two? You’ve come a long way baby in the design evolution—oh yeah, that’s a different cigarette company slogan.

*Acrylonitrile is harmful to aquatic life.

Example of a 1972 offer with credit card purchase option.

Example of a 1972 offer with credit card purchase option.

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