The World POG Federation (WPF) was something of corporate whirlwind. The company purchased the POG trademark from the Haleakala Diary (who retained a 14% share in WPF) in Maui, Hawaii in September 1993 and posted sales in excess of $25 million in less than 18 months.
WPF’s success was achieved through an ingenious combination of savvy marketing, licensing and a craze the captured the imagination of 90s children.
The game of flipping milkcaps can trace its roots back to Hawaii in the early 1920’s but the name POG is derived from the name of the famous Haleakala Diary fruit juice drink, POG; an acronym for Passionfruit-Orange-Guava. In the early 1970’s Haleakala Diary started placing the POG name on their STANPAC milkcaps and soon became a favourite among local children. Once STANPAC, the Canadian company which produced the milkcaps for Haleakala caught wind of their popularity, they began printing and shipping them as game pieces.
The President-CEO of the WPF was Californian marketing genius Alan Forman Rypinski, the man who in 1971 marketed an obscure chemists formula as car care product Armor All, turning the leather and vinyl protectant into a $50 million household name.
He recognised the potential of the colourfully decorated milk caps and with a group of investors dubbed “the Brainiacs” brought “the old fashioned game of the future” to market.
The World POG Federation was formed in September 1993 and sold millions of milkcaps worldwide; producing an impressive array of officially licensed products. Before long WPF POGs were being licensed out to hundreds of companies from Burger King to Disney. POG mania spawned an official fan club and the US National POG Tournament was held every February 7th from 1993 to 1997.
An animated Pogman television series was planned as well as a televised educational gameshow but both were never realised before the POG bubble burst. The WPF had once seemed unstoppable and in May of 1995 moved to a new modern headquarters in Irvine, California. However, by late 1995, the WPF was on the verge of bankruptcy. A combination of falling sales and market saturation with cheap imitations spelled the end for this corporate giant. With creditors chasing unpaid bills the staff were cut from 61 to 13.
The WPF had overestimated the longevity of the craze and failed to recognise the changing appetites of American kids. The “old fashioned game of the future” retains a small but dedicated following to this day and I hope you will check the blog from time to time as we fill in the gaps of this incredible craze.
AdAge, 1995, accessed 21 February 2019, < https://adage.com/article/news/marketing-100-alan-rypinski-pog/80847/>
St Louis Post-Dispatch,1995, accessed 21 February 2019, <https://www.questia.com/newspaper/1P2-32968126/fad-fades-pog-maker-on-verge-of-bankruptcy>