About This Project
From April 10th through May 12th, 2000, I, along with fellow New York actor Darryl Hudak, played “The World’s La-Z-iest Shopper” in a promotion for Yahoo! Shopping in Rockefeller Center, an acting gig that got me my Actors’ Equity card and started my side-career as New York City’s top guerrilla marketer.
This character, who lived in his Yahoo! “Playhouse” on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan, had many gadgets in his home which made his life all the simpler. Hence, he was called “lazy.” But how I played him, he was quite the opposite.
His love for gadgets came from his desire to make his life easier, to make way for the things he really enjoyed doing in his life. Especially, he liked to shop, and have fun shopping, but he didn’t like having to spend all that time getting to the store, looking around, getting in line, and carrying around his purchases. Yahoo! Shopping, with over 10,000 stores accessible from his home computer, was the goldmine of a find, and he wanted to share his shopping secret with other people who visited his playhouse, to make their lives a lot easier and more fun, too.
The five weeks there were filled with free giveaways and an estimated 3,000 visitors between Darryl and myself. I figure I’d shaken hands with and learned the names of nearly 1,800 people, from all sorts of exciting countries–Serbia, Argentina, Germany, England, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Canada, China, Ireland, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Israel, and probably some others I’m forgetting. Plus, there were plenty of tourists from all over the United States, and many of the New Yorkers who worked around Rockefeller Center paid occasional visits to my curious abode.
When a person would enter, I would introduce myself rather jubilantly as “The World’s La-Z-iest Shopper.” Sometimes people wanted a real name. I would then tell them “Willis,” from the abbreviation of World’s La-Z-iest Shopper: W.L.S.
I would then have them sit in my internet-ready purple La-Z-Boy chair and offer them a drink from the cooler hidden in its arm. There was a laptop attached to the chair which was neat, and there was a heated massage too. For added reclining entertainment, I’d turn on Yodel, my Sony AIBO robot dog who could do tricks including the Yahoo! Yodel! (One week, Yodel liked to lift his leg and pee a lot.)
In the backyard of my home were picnic tables with laptops, plus goodies to hand out. There, I’d show them all the ease and benefits of shopping online. There was nothing to buy and nothing to sell, and people walked away with free things, so there was a lot of fun to be had. So many people left with huge smiles on their faces.
It was a lot of work and a lot of fun, with a nice amount of perks. Included was publicity, which included appearances on ZDTV’s Internet Tonight and the FOX News Channel’s FOX and Friends, as well as articles by BusinessWeek and Time Digital. Also, I got to meet a lot of hip up-and-coming and well-established dotcom retailers with stores on Yahoo! Shopping; there was a different featured retailer on Yahoo! Shopping at my playhouse each day, with different cool free giveaways for people who showed up.
Then in September 2000, The World’s La-Z-iest Shopper ventured to California for two consecutive weekends, first at Macy*s in San Francisco and then at Macy*s in Beverly Hills. Dubbed “Lazy Shopper Lite,” Willis had his trademark La-Z-boy chairs inside Macy*s to help illustrate for people the comfort and ease with which one could shop online from Yahoo! Shopping.