The Invisible Fish

In marketing, sometimes you need a “catch”.

This is one of the stories that could be as much urban legend as actual history. But Harry Reichenbach’s “Invisible Fish” is an original marketing stunt. Harry (1882-1931) was called a publicist in his day and worked largely promoting movies and their stars but on one occasion he was hired to bring customers into a restaurant.

Harry told the owner to fill a large transparent bowl with water and put it in the restaurant window. He then added a sign reading: “The only living Brazilian invisible fish.” The attracted the desired attention with people claiming to be able to see the fish.

In his memoirs Harry wrote, “I placed a little electric fan in one corner shielded from the onlookers and this blew ripples on the water. After that the crowds couldn’t be controlled. “You see it? There it goes! There! No, there!” People vied with each other to point out the fish, and the restaurant that featured such an oddity soon got trade as well.”

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Harry was a character but most people believe that this idea came from a circus or carny show and Harry merely reapplied it. This makes sense to me as I remember years ago being duped at an exhibition. I paid to see a “6 Foot Man Eating Chicken” and that is what I got. There was a male human-being sitting on a chair eating a bucket of KFC.

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