nothing

How much money can be made by selling a block of wood meant to remind people that they don’t need to spend money on frivolous goods?

Amsterdam-based copywriter Pim de Graaff hopes to answer that question with Nothing, a small block of wood that sits next to all the other stuff you own and… well, that’s about it. The handmade blocks cost €29 each and, according to de Graaff, a few have already been sold.

“Nothing reminds us to enjoy everything we already have,” de Graaff says in a release sent to PandoDaily. “Seeing Nothing on my table at home makes me feel I don’t need more all the time. Not necessarily the newest iPhone. No new clothes just because. It gives me peace. I hope to share this feeling with others through Nothing.”

All that anti-capitalist hullaballoo means is that de Graaff is selling something to convince people that they don’t need to buy anything new. It might just have that effect if new owners open the box, stare at the thing they just spent almost $40 on, and smack themselves in the forehead with it. That’s probably their only hope.

But the way de Graaff is selling his wooden block to greedy blockheads is worth noting, if only because it’s a microcosm of e-commerce’s best practices being used to sell a product borne from Alanis Morrissette-level irony.

Nothing doesn’t just have a website that’s already gone viral on Digg and is simply waiting to be linked to on Upworthy. It’s also got a series of Pinterest boards detailing its development process and where the blocks have ended up. It’s got the requisite Facebook page. And it’s only available in a limited run of 50 blocks — at least for now — so it’s got an air of exclusivity.

The only things preventing this from being an Internet darling are a crowdfunding campaign and a commemorative tote bag featuring a pithy slogan.

All snark — or is it smarm? — aside, it is fascinating to see what a copywriter is able to sell with some wood, a few free online services, and a website. The product itself is a bit silly, and the entire thing reeks of a performance art piece showing how anti-capitalism has been subverted by money-grubbers, but if that’s the case it’s a pretty good performance.