Featured image: The Chambong logo from the Chambong press kit.
What do you get when you combine champagne, the concept of a “beer bong” and one cute elephant mascot? A Chambong, of course!
If you’re not familiar with the portmanteau, have no fear: a Chambong is basically a champagne flute with a curved glass stem that allows you to drink champagne very quickly (the beer bong part), while still remaining super classy (the champagne part). Perhaps best of all, this champagne-drinking creation was created by a Communication Leadership alumnus.
The Chambong story began in 2014 when a group of Seattle-area friends had an idea to create a special marijuana smoking device for a Super Bowl party (read the full story here). It ended up as a failed experiment for smoking marijuana, but then someone came up with the idea to use it to drink champagne. That’s when the magic happened. Chambong became an instant hit among the friends, and soon they decided to turn it into a viable business venture.
This magnificent party instrument was officially introduced to the world in September 2015. Randy Leslein is the principle mind behind the project. Leslein is part of cohort 9, back when Comm Lead was known as the Master of Communication in Digital Media program, or “MCDM,” program.
As one of four founders, Leslein pushed the idea of making a business out of it.
It took the team eight months to figure out how to manufacture the product. Then, Leslein created a website for Chambong. To get the word out to the public, Leslein made a list of possible ambassadors for Chambong, which consisted of bar owners around Seattle as well as writers and bloggers. He received no responses. However, things turned around for Chambong when Leslein sent out emails to journalists he found on a media database website. A journalist from Mashable, Brian Koerber, got the joke and wrote an article about Chambong. Two weeks later, online media outlets such as Buzzfeed, Forbes, Food&Wine and others jumped on the bandwagon and ran articles featuring Chambong. The coverage gave the product the push it needed. “The product was sold out two days after the Buzzfeed article” said Leslein.
Leslein said his Comm Lead experience was crucial in helping him develop the product. Leslein praised Rick McPherson’s “Business Fundamentals” class, and said it was one of the most useful classes he took. He applied the skills he learned creating a business plan from the class when developing the business plan for Chambong. He even referred back to his class project for guidance. He also emailed McPherson multiple times to ask for advice.
Telling the story of the product is also important, and Leslein said the program helped him learn to incorporate successful storytelling into both the website and the product packaging. The website content plays off the joke of the product itself, and it’s full of witty and cheeky humor. For example, the way Chambong is described on the website is priceless:
“A device used for the rapid and enhanced experience of of sparkling wine / champagne consumption.
It’ll make you friends. Land you that big promotion. Fill the void. Mic drop. Walk off home run. Pick up mic. Crush karaoke. Make your parents proud.”
Leslein said having a good story and clear, interesting and easy to understand personality is important for getting media coverage because that makes it easy for journalists to pick up and write about.
The support from Leslein’s Comm Lead network was also an important part of the rise of Chambong. Many of his friends, who are fellow Comm Leaders, were involved in photoshoots and promotional videos, and also helped spread hype via social media.
Leslein said that since Chambong is a friend-oriented product, he wanted to create a community around it and build a Chambong culture to bring people together. This shows in the way that Chambong is always portrayed in a party setting with a group of friends having a blast.
Lastly, I asked Randy if he could Chambong with anyone in the world, who would it be?
He answered “Hmm, that’s a good question,” he said. “I’d say Rick McPherson…or Rick Astley, one of the Ricks.”