Friday, December 30, 2005
brothers create fun with a purpose
If toys are
only for children, somebody forgot to tell Sid and Bruce Good.
brothers, a cross between inventors Wilbur and Orville Wright
and "Fever Pitch" filmmakers
Peter and Bobby Farrelly, have built a business out of their
play, street-savvy marketing and the endless pursuit of the next
Sid Good, 49, is president of Good Marketing Inc. He's the brilliant,
detail-oriented, practical-minded sibling, as befits someone who
earned his MBA from the University of Chicago's Graduate School
Bruce, 42, vice president of the outfit, is the charming, spontaneous,
quick-witted one, the zany comedian to Sid's straight man.
Together, they have given the world a slew of new toys, gadgets
and playthings for children of all ages.
They took the children's game Duck Duck Goose and turned it into
an Oppenheimer Platinum Award-winning board game for preschoolers.
They thought up the best-selling Royal Potty, a throne-shaped training
toilet that blares a fanfare when the child goes.
"Overall, our goal is to create new markets and new categories,
ultimately making it more fun, more convenient or more useful," Sid
said. "We call it 'innovation with a purpose.' There has to
be a reason for being, a target audience that wants it and needs
"It's needs-based innovation," Bruce
They've entered the grown-up market with the Shark Grab 'N Bag
Powered Scooper, a motorized hand-held invention designed to deposit
Fido's calling cards - as well as other messes too icky to pick
up with your bare hands - straight into biodegradable bags. Sid
was inspired by one too many weekends pooch-sitting Bruce's Bernese
mountain dog, Winnie.
"We can send people into outer space, so there had to be
a better way to pick up dog mess," Sid said.
took their idea to inventor/designer and engineer Jersy Perkitny
of Per-Art Design studio in Cleveland, who created the first
prototypes - complete with a pop-up onboard flashlight for nighttime
walks - that they shopped around to manufacturers.
the one who discovered other uses for the Scooper. "He
came into the office and poured motor oil, house paint, eggs, yogurt
and ketchup all over the table. He was dropping things on the table
and started cleaning them up," Sid said.
Good Marketing have applied for a worldwide patent, "because
dogs are everywhere, and the problem is the same everywhere," Perkitny
said. The Scooper retails for $29.99.
Diane Lankford, a product designer for the toy and giftware industry
and owner of Jumping Cow Studio in Rocky River, said the Good brothers
are known for being seriously devoted to their clients and incredibly
fun to work with. She was co-inventor of the Duck Duck Goose game.
"In our business, there's a lot of snake-oil salesmen posing
as agents," she said. The Good brothers, in contrast, are
well-regarded for their credibility and contacts.
"And because they're brothers, they have this kind of yin-yang
thing going on," she said. "Bruce is really high-energy.
He's got this manic creativity, kind of like Steve Martin.
"Sid's more grounded - you can tell he's the older brother.
He's the voice of reason. I kid them about Bruce being Tigger and
Sid being Eeyore," she said.
Good Marketing's headquarters is a child's fantasyland crammed
into a loft apartment in Cleveland's Little Italy. Furnished with
oversized plastic chairs and a comfy couch piled high with stuffed
animals, the office is filled with toys and products they've helped
create, as well as other playthings they've collected over the
years. Over the sofa is a 9-foot-long mounted swordfish their grandfather
caught. An enormous candy bowl is constantly replenished.
"Everyone has toys in their office," Bruce said. "It's
just that toys for adults are called 'collectibles.' With a straight
face, an adult will say to you, 'I'm into collectibles.' No, you're
not! You play with die-cast toys!"
Innovative ideas intended to last
The first item that bore their name was Gross Out
bandages, which make it look like you've got safety pins, oozing
sores and worms
coming out of your skin. "If you were over the age of 4, you
wouldn't be caught with a Disney or Barney bandage," Sid said.
But Good Marketing built its reputation with award-winning
innovations like the Royal Potty, which has an electric eye and
to reward the child for his efforts. "Everyone we presented
this to turned it down," Bruce said. "But times change
and people change, and since it was introduced in 2001, it's become
the No. 1-selling training potty in the market worldwide."
Another "Why didn't I think of that?" idea
was Halloween Candy Catchers, costumes with giant pouches built into
so toddlers can hold Mom or Dad's hand when they go trick-or-treating.
They've also made forays into kids food, with Jelly Bean Jelly,
made by Robert Rothschild Farm, and Crayola Crafty Cooking Kits,
a line of baked goods that children can decorate like art projects.
"We want products that will last in the market, or have a
greater chance to last in the market," Sid said. "If
it's not fun if it's a toy, or if it doesn't taste good if it's
a food item, kids are not going to be interested in buying it."
When asked to name his favorite toy, Sid says, without hesitation, "Tonka
trucks, with U.S.-made steel." Bruce throws up his hands and
howls, "Oh, I was going to say Tonka trucks if he didn't say
Work experience led to own business
One of Sid's first jobs was at M&M/Mars, as brand supervisor
for M&Ms plain and peanut candy. "My whole file cabinet
was filled with M&Ms," he said. "I gained 15 pounds
in three months."
Other jobs followed, at Frito-Lay Inc. in Dallas, as brand manager
for Doritos and Fritos, and at Hasbro Corp., as head of promotions
and director of marketing. "I loved the whole notion of new
product development," he said, but because 80 percent of new
products fail, most companies try to avoid all but the sure-fire
The toy industry, on the other hand, is all about new, bigger
and better, and products change all the time. After five years
at Hasbro, he left to start his own business.
Bruce went to Washington, D.C., after college and got a job on
Capitol Hill, intending to be a lawyer. His career includes
working as a store manager for Banana Republic, account executive
DDB Needham and Young & Rubicam, and running the field
office for the Clinton-Gore campaign in Santa Clara, Calif.
Sid started Good Marketing in late 1989 as a consulting company specializing
in the children's market. "Cleveland actually is a great place
to start a business, because it's the land of affordable housing
and affordable office space," Sid said. "The resources
we have here are extraordinary. We've been blessed by working with
a very creative group of people. There's also the Cleveland Institute
of Art and other Cleveland businesses."
Bruce joined the business four years later, moving from San Francisco. "I'd
gone to the toy fair with Sid, got a taste of the toy industry
and loved it," he said. When Bruce came on board, the business
changed focus from primarily consulting to half consulting, half
new product development.
Only 20 percent of ideas make it
"This was an extraordinary opportunity, because everyone
tends to hold back on new categories," Sid said. "You
have to do your homework. You always make mistakes. If 80 percent
of your ideas are going to fail, you have to ensure that the 20
percent that do succeed are really good."
Among the ideas that never quite caught on are the Giggle Brush,
a kids' toothbrush that giggles when you shake the handle, and
Tasty Fish Heads Candy, a lollipop that looks like a fish skeleton.
But the ideas keep coming. Good Marketing is bringing at least
six new products to market in 2006, none of which the brothers
will discuss in advance. "Manufacturers turn down the things
we do all the time, and we just resubmit them the next year," Bruce
Amy Good, Bruce's wife of nearly nine years and an attorney for
the U.S. Justice Department, said of her husband, "In some
ways he's just a big kid."
"Bruce has this amazing ability to come up with creative
ways to play with the kids. Sometimes I've come home and found
stuffed animals lined up all over the room, wall to wall, because
they're having a toy parade."
And because he's so passionate about his work, "The kids
are always saying, 'Hey, Dad, I have a new invention. Let's make
a prototype.' "