The first season of Comedy Central's TV series Nathan For You introduced the world to Canadian comic (and business school graduate) Nathan Fielder, whose ill-conceived ideas for small businesses walk a fine line between cringe-worthy and downright hilarious.
Fielder is back for a second season, the first episode of which aired Tuesday. His marketing tactics this time around are even wackier than before--a bold statement in light of the poo-flavored frozen yogurt Fielder successfully introduced in season one.
If you're not familiar with the show, it's a docu/reality show/comedy. So, you know, these are real businesses getting business advice from Fielder, a "real" expert.
To help drive business and promote honesty at an auto repair shop in Glendale, California, Fielder comes up with a brilliant tactic: he has owner Greg Boodaghian take a lie detector test every time he gives estimates to customers.
"Something like this won't only make you look more honest," Fielder says, "but it will make your competition look more dishonest."
That's logical, right?
A professional polygraph administrator proceeds to corroborate all of Boodaghian's estimates as true statements, but alas--customers fail to appreciate the value-add and only focus on the fact that what should be a simple, short transaction now involves a rather lengthy testing process.
In another segment in the first episode, Fielder convinces Los Angeles real estate agent Sue Stanford to rebrand herself as "The Ghost Realtor." What's the play? Stanford's homes, as advertised on a bus stop bench ad Fielder makes, are 100 percent ghost- and demon-free. He even creates a new link to Stanford's website: GhostFreeHomes.com.
When a psychic medium declares that one of Stanford's properties happens to be haunted by an incubus, Fielder does what any worthy marketing expert would do: he books an exorcist to rid the house of the evil spirit. During an open house, Stanford tells a client not to worry about the ghost problem, as the spirit will soon be banished. Even though the exorcism is declared a success, it's too little too late for that particular client.
Are there real, practical business lessons in Nathan For You that you can apply to your own business? Sure--if outrageousness is your thing. But that's not at all why you should watch it.
Season two of Nathan For You looks to be every bit as hilarious as the first season, particularly an upcoming episode featuring Fielder's "Dumb Starbucks" coffee store parody that attracted national media attention earlier this year. Stay tuned for more recaps every week.