In 1965, Rit Dye nearly died. Used primarily to dye curtains and other home accessories at the time, the product wasn't selling, and the factory was about to close. Don Price, a Best Foods executive hired to market Hellman's mayonnaise, persuaded his bosses -- who also owned Rit -- to let him have a shot at saving the failing brand. The agreement came with a catch. He had to do it with virtually no budget.
After researching uses for dye around the world, Price began a gonzo marketing campaign in New York's Greenwich Village. He hoped to generate interest among the neighborhood's free-spirited youths, who were fast becoming fascinated with psychedelic colors and artsy-craftsy garb. He knocked on doors looking for artists who would be willing to use Rit for tie-dyeing, a technique used in Asia and Africa to decorate clothes.