Little did Scott C. Porter (BA ’97, MBA ’04) know when he spent a long weekend visiting friends that one of the games they played would become a successful prize winner for him and his brother Bryce V. Porter (BA ’05).
The game was charades—with a twist. Instead of one person giving clues that the rest of the team guessed, the game was reversed. One person guessed while the rest of the team acted out clues for words and phrases. The objective was to guess as many words as possible in 60 seconds.
“It was so fun because everyone was actively involved in the game instead of having one often-ill-at-ease person giving non-verbal clues to everyone else,” Scott says. “We all looked silly. I told my brother we should turn it into a real game with cardboard cards, a score pad, and a timer.”
That was the beginning of Reverse Charades, a game that has gone from first-year sales of 1,000 three years ago to projected sales total of 70,000 for the 2012 holiday season. The game has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and Disney Radio, and has won more than a dozen awards including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, announced on the Today Show, the National Parenting Publications Award, and Creative Child’s Game of the Year. When Utah’s KSL Studio 5 named Reverse Charades the best new family game, Studio 5 co-host Brooke N. Walker (’06) called the game a “kick” that had people “going bananas.”
A junior edition of the game was released in 2011 and has already won several awards. Additionally, the brothers have created the game in English, French, Swedish, and Dutch and have new expansion word packs themed for a girls’ night in, sports, and holidays. A mobile app version of the game has yielded more than 100,000 downloads. “We began everything with focus groups that tested the game and responded positively,” says Scott. “We then looked for and continue to seek words and phrases likely to be humorous when acted out in a group.”
“Some of our most hilarious results have come from phrases and words such as cow tipping, sumo wrestling, dog pile, synchronized swimming, Heimlich maneuver, marriage proposal, Olympic torch, totem pole, the wave, human pyramid, and CPR,” adds Bryce
Not surprisingly, their biggest challenge came when they began to market Reverse Charades. “Stores want to know about your sales record before they are willing to place the game, but you have to be able to get into stores to make sales,” Bryce says. The duo began to attend trade shows, made cold calls to businesses, and began to work through mommy bloggers, who would mention the game in their posts. Gradually they got enough sales to get attention in stores.
“Our first placement was the BYU Bookstore,” Bryce says. When their yearly sales reached 2,500, marketing became easier. Businesses and individuals began calling them, and their sales expanded to 20,000. Now, three years after breaking into the first store, they have been placed in more than 2,000 retail and online stores, including 50 college bookstores. Among the businesses who feature Reverse Charades are Hallmark, Books-a-Million, and Barnes & Noble. The game also has an international retail presence in Singapore, Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
“We like the game because people find it so fun,” Scott says, “but we are also finding businesses who want to use it in team-building and leadership, and it has had use in educational and language-learning settings.”