A friends prank of listing a free, life-size velociraptor sculpture on a KSL classified ad drew hundreds of interested responses and has resulted in a new business venture.
BYU student Buck Bailey began receiving calls and text messages one night inquiring after his free dinosaur ad, something he knew nothing about. Before long he realized there was a fake ad on KSL with his number listed as the contact.
“I had to turn my phone off for three days because it was literally vibrating non-stop,” Bailey said. “I was bombarded by people.”
The email that was used to post the ad was marked as spam, and the user was unable to take the post down. The post hit Facebook and went viral receiving 20,000 views in two weeks.
Biology student Stuart Jackson saw the ad on the KSL.com free page, and couldn’t believe his good luck.
“I called the number right away, it was insane to me that someone would give something like that away and that it was not taken yet,” Jackson said. “I was really disappointing when I realized it was a hoax. I wanted to put it in my basement.”
It turns out Creighton Baird, a speech communications student, was behind the prank. Baird is a veteran to pranking, sometimes employing it as a mild mode of revenge. He posted the KSL advertisement late one night, thinking Buck would find it funny.
“My friends and I do it to each other all the time,” Baird said. “The same night I did a Craigslist ad asking people to audition for a commercial by leaving my friend a message singing a jingle.”
Baird found a picture of a raptor online for the ad and wrote up a fictitious blurb about the sellers wife wanting the dinosaur gone by morning. But he never expected his ad to go viral.
“Buck got at least 800 calls, and over 500 texts asking about the ad,” Baird said. “We tried to get it taken down by marking it as spam repeatedly.”
Sr. Director of Operations for the KSL marketplace Bill Quick said that they have an advanced system for detecting spam on the online marketplace. Upon seeing the ad he said it probably passed monitoring as a legitimate advertisement.
“You’d be surprised at the interesting things people sell on here,” Quick said. “We see an average of 10,000 new ads a day on the site, and it’s become a commonplace site to visit in our community.”
The post was finally taken down after a phone call and help from some amused KSL employees. But huge demand for the fictional raptor sculpture gave Baird and Bailey an idea.
“We had people calling from different states, people calling from museums, people offering to pay $1,500 for it,” Baird said. “We began to see that there was a huge untapped market for dinosaurs.”
Baird and his friends have begun doing research into how to make a sculpture like they had on the ad, and creating a business in selling them. The friends already have a entrepreneur business between them in making paddles, and see a dinosaur business as a real possibility.
“We already have a huge huge customer base,” Baird said. “If we can make this work, all we need to do is call these people back and tell them to check out our website.”