Every once in a while, a product comes along that is so amazing, so revolutionary, so beyond the wildest fathomings of the human imagination, that we dedicate our spare time, creativity, and meme-making skills to making fun of it. For the last couple years, the winner of the "most fun to make fun of" product has been Flex Tape.
Yes, this amazing tape has, at least according to the world’s foremost meme designers, the power to mend a black hole, repair relationships between North and South Korea, and also stop the fall of Rome because it is not bound by the base constructs of space or time or being an inanimate object.
If you have ever wanted to know the real story behind Flex Tape, the struggles and triumphs of its two genius creators, the ways in which this product will solve climate change and end world hunger, well … stick around.
From humble beginnings
This will be very hard to digest, so prepare yourself for some hard truth. The marketing genius and super human we all know as Phil Swift was not always the boat-sawing, universe-saving man he is today. According to Flex Seal Spray Can (a Flex Seal affiliate site that sorta seems like it might be run by Phil?), Phil Swift has been in the marketing and direct sales industry since the ’80s. His brother Alan, who gets a lot less air time but is also one of the geniuses behind the Flex Seal and Flex Tape family of products, is a University of Houston graduate with 26 years in business administration. Together, the pair founded Swift Response LLC, which specializes in "high performance products that are easy to use and solve every day common issues in the workplace and home."
So if Phil and Alan Swift have been around for more than a quarter of a century, why, oh why, did they not grace the world with their revolutionary products earlier? Perhaps the world just wasn’t ready.
Phil Swift’s family doesn’t seem to relish fame the way Phil does
We already know that Phil Swift launched the Flex Seal company with his brother Alan, but intel on Alan is notoriously difficult to find. Who is this Alan? Is he as stunningly beautiful as his brother? Does superhuman charisma and marketing genius run in the family? To find out, you could join the 1,800-plus fans who follow Alan on Instagram, but you might be waiting a while because as Alan has posted exactly zero times to his Instagram account as of this writing. He didn’t even post a "hello, just testing out my cool new Instagram page" when he set the dang thing up.
There’s evidently a third brother, too: Rick Swift, who has way less hair than either of his brothers and an Instagram page that is, sadly, private. So you’re probably not going to get any secret insight into the family life of Phil Swift from either of those sources.
Phil did post about his son on Instagram — Nic Swift is a music producer living in Los Angeles, and he even has some Flex Seal cred. The younger Swift evidently worked as a production assistant on the first Flex Seal commercial, so clearly, Flex Seal is coursing through the veins of pretty much everyone in that family tree. Except maybe Rick. We have no idea what that dude is up to.
How did Flex Tape become so famous?
Flex Tape may be endowed with supernatural powers that even Thanos himself would envy, but it’s still just a stupid roll of tape. How exactly does a stupid roll of tape gain international fame, its own library of ridiculous memes, and the love and adoration of men and women everywhere?
YouTuber JonTron. Yes, he who hath obtained fame by sitting on his couch and talking about stuff on YouTube decided to sit on his couch and talk about Flex Tape, and the video he made has 35 million views so far. There are literally millions of people in this world who think watching some guy make fun of a roll of tape is a good use of 10 minutes. Then Phil Swift became like a god and Flex Tape became famous and JonTron clearly deserved some kind of kickback for that. Seriously, Phil, you were just a loud guy with a roll of tape pretending to be Billy Mays on late-night television before JonTron came along, you can’t at least give him a lifetime supply of Flex Tape or something? Maybe a zombie-proof wall for his front yard or a couple boats you cut up and taped together? Talk about ungrateful.
Is Flex Tape truly as awesome as the commercials say?
How dare you question Phil Swift! You’ve seen the man saw a boat in half, for goodness sake! And then tape it back together! If it didn’t work, wouldn’t we have heard about that by now? Well, lots of people have fact-checked Flex Tape, and (gasp) not all of them have come to the conclusion that Flex Tape is as awesome as Phil Swift makes it out to be.
A local Fox station in Texas tried Flex Tape on a leaky pipe and attempted to seal a leak underwater, and achieved the exact same success you see in the commercials. So that’s great. But Inside Edition tried duplicating the sawed-in-half boat trick with only limited success. The boat leaked, but "remained seaworthy," which is not how most people want their boats to be.
A pair of YouTubers had even worse luck with their sawed-in-half-boat test. Their boat floated for all of an hour. Flex Seal’s response? They told Inside Edition that "when the product doesn’t perform as expected, it’s typically because the product was not applied correctly." So, you know, it’s safe to use in shark-infested waters, but remember that if it doesn’t work it’s totally not Flex Seal’s fault.
Flex Tape’s many bizarre uses
It will not surprise you to hear that Flex Tape is good for so many other things besides just taping boats back together and fixing leaks. Flex Tape can also be used to subdue a body builder and rip the psoriasis flakes off your body, and seriously, if you don’t want to barf then don’t go looking for that video.
Other people have used Flex Tape to build unbreakable walls, which seems like it would be a really handy thing to do in the zombie apocalypse when you’re really going to need a way to keep flesh-eating corpses out of your yard. So far no one seems to have tried doing anything insanely dangerous with it, which is probably a good thing for Phil Swift and Flex Seal, since no one needs that kind of bad publicity.
Based on what we’ve seen so far of people’s actual experiences with Flex Taped boats, you should probably not try Phil Swift’s glass-bottomed-boat-in-shark-infested-waters thing. Or the psoriasis thing because that’s just gross (and expensive).
Is Flex Tape bullet-proof?
If Flex Tape can stand up to a high-pressure water leak and make a rowboat seaworthy, can it also stop a bullet? No. Nope. Once more, for emphasis, totally, utterly, and completely no, so don’t go making yourself body armor out of the stuff, okay?
Stopping a bullet is one thing Phil Swift has never said his product can do, but the idea is a natural progression for some viewers from all the crazy hyped-up claims made by the commercials. So it’s not that surprising that there have been a number of YouTubers who set out to discover if the near-supernatural product could actually offer any protection.
To test the idea, Matt Carriker of Demolition Ranch outfitted a test dummy with armor made from cardboard and Flex Tape. A single layer of Flex Tape failed to stop a bullet from a .22 pistol. So Carriker went thicker … and thicker … and thicker. After 60 layers also failed to stop a bullet, he tried 80 layers, and at that point the bullet was finally thwarted. Flex Tape is not the answer.
What do the reviews say?
No famous person is safe from the ultimate hazard of success in America: litigation. And also people complaining loudly, publicly, and in Amazon product reviews. "Does not actually work underwater" seems to be the most common complaint. One user also said "the only thing it sticks to is skin."
Still, a few bad reviews on Amazon (36 percent are one-star rating, which is more than "a few,") isn’t really the worst part of it. Twenty-six complaints have been filed with the Better Business Bureau, which granted is a pretty small number compared to what the company has probably sold overall, but some of the complaints accuse the company not of false advertising but of overcharging. Some customers say they were sent more product than they ordered, were charged full price for it, and were given no easy way to change the order after placing it.
Finally, there are the class-action lawsuits. Or really, just one dude on YouTube who says he wants to put together a class-action lawsuit because Flex Seal destroyed his pond. Poor consumers. If only they knew, "When the product doesn’t perform as expected, it’s typically because the product was not applied correctly." Flex Seal wins.
Celebrities don’t actually love Flex Seal products that much
Flex Seal has a whole video about all the celebrities who love their products, which as it turns out is Jerry Seinfeld for like 16 seconds on Jimmy Kimmel, Daniel Tosh, David Letterman, musician Josh Homme (who made a single joke about it on The Talking Dead), and a couple of B-list celebrities no one has ever heard of.
We can’t really fault Flex Seal for wanting to capitalize on the handful of celebrities who have mentioned them in passing, but it does seem like kind of a stretch to say celebrities love Flex Seal. Even Jerry Seinfeld’s gush "there is nothing that the product cannot do!" kind of seemed a little not-very-serious. Maybe the company should be sending free samples out to everyone in Hollywood so they can build a longer list of celebrities who mention the stuff on television. We’d like to suggest Lucas Till, for a start. Who is more qualified than MacGyver to show the world just how awesome Flex Tape can be, especially when combined with a wad of chewing gum and the pop top from a can of Coke? What world problems could not be solved?
Flex Seal loves NASCAR
Long, long ago, people figured out they could raise brand awareness with T-shirts and hoodies, which was probably around the same time people realized they could also turn entire cars into high-speed billboards. Flex Seal jumped on the NASCAR bandwagon in 2013 with JD Motorsports, and as of 2018 has been in the sponsorship game for six consecutive years. Now, everyone who watches NASCAR racing gets to have Phil Swift catchphrases on repeat in their brains everytime they see a Flex Seal/Flex Tape car round a corner, so yay.
JD Motorsports is just as gushy about their sponsor as every other normal human with an occasional need to coat, seal, and protect. "I can’t thank Phil Swift enough for all of the support over the years," said Johnny Davis, who owns the JD Motorsports team. "They have been a very valuable part in the building of our race team, and their products are used almost daily at our shop." Wait, what? So besides taping a car back together after a crash, Flex Seal and Flex tape get used for regular, everyday car maintenance? Has JD Motorsports actually read the Amazon reviews? Just wondering.
Flex Tape saves the day
In February 2017, in a moment that must surely have given Phil Swift heart palpitations of joy, the NASCAR car that Flex Tape sponsors — driven by Garrett Smithley — crashed at Daytona and was in bad need of a 5-minutes-or-less repair. Fortunately, and this doesn’t seem staged or just waaaay too convenient at all, there was plenty of Flex Tape on hand because duh, it would have been really embarrassing if the pit crew for a NASCAR car with the words "Flex Tape" written all over it had nothing but a roll of Gorilla Tape stashed in its toolbox.
Anyway, according to JD Motorsports, Smithley’s car was repaired using Flex Tape, and then he went on to finish eighth in the race. Maybe some rules need to be changed at NASCAR — surely it’s unfair for a driver to use such a supernatural performance enhancer in the middle of a race?
What to do with all this Flex Tape?
So now you have 17 rolls of Flex Tape, but you just can’t bring yourself to saw your boat in half. What else can you do with all that Flex Tape? Fortunately, the Flex Seal blog has some ideas.
Since we know Flex Tape is awesome at sticking to living things, the first obvious choice is to use it as a bug trap. "Hang long strips of Flex Tape in areas you want to minimize bugs," the site suggests. Now, a roll of Flex Tape costs $13 and is only 5 feet long, and you can get 36 feet of actual fly tape for the same amount, but whatever. If you don’t like that idea, you can use Flex Tape on your furniture feet to prevent scuffing because cutting circles of super-sticky Flex Tape with your household scissors is way more practical than buying a pack of 181 felt furniture pads that are the same price as a roll of Flex Tape and, you know, actually designed for the purpose.
Okay, so those aren’t great ideas — happily, Flex Seal has some car repair tips, too. You can use Flex Tape to tape your license plate to your car because everyone knows license plate holders and screws are for suckers. You can also use it to tape on your rearview mirror, tape your hood closed, and fix your cracked bumper. Yes, it truly is nature’s most divine substance. Truly.
Flex Tape is great for pranking basketball stars
Flex Tape is good for so much more than just taping boats together. It’s also a great way to prank someone. You could, you know, cut up your neighbor’s boat and tape it back together or something, although come to think of it, that would probably not make you very popular with your neighbor, so maybe don’t do that. Or, you could just do what the NBA on TNT crew did to Charles Barkley, which is way less expensive. The crew cut up a bucket ("That’s a lotta damage!"), repaired it with Flex Tape, and then demoed the repair by pouring water into the bucket while holding it over Charles Barkley’s head. Except it wasn’t the Flex Taped bucket, it was another bucket, which means Barkley actually ended up soaked.
After the crew revealed the switch, they offered to demo the real Flex Taped bucket but oops, they ran out of time. So Flex Tape got some brand recognition, while no one actually got to see whether the stuff works. So … that worked out fine for Flex Tape then.
Flex Tape swag for one lucky winner!
If you don’t think you can justify spending $59.99 on a cardboard cutout of Phil Swift or $329.99 on a Razor-style Flex Seal scooter (which is fairly similar to the one on Amazon that you can pick up for $29.99 that you could just cover with Flex Tape if you really wanted a Flex Seal scooter that badly), wait around because Flex Seal has some pretty weird contests and giveaways. For Halloween 2018, the company announced a Phil Swift pumpkin carving competition, and just in case you aren’t creative enough to figure out how to make your pumpkin look like Phil Swift, they even provided the stencil. (No purchase necessary!)
For fans who may not relish the thought of pulling the guts out of their Phil Swift pumpkin, Flex Seal also sponsored a "big head" giveaway on Instagram — winners received autographed copies of Phil Swift’s giant head. "You know it’s hard to get ahead in life," (har, har) Phil Swift wrote. "Tell me why you think you deserve my big head. Why should I give my big head to you?" We’re sure the competition was totally just about creating brand recognition for Flex Seal and Flex Tape, and that it had nothing to do with Phil Swift’s giant, inflated ego … err … head.
You, too, can be Phil Swift
Perhaps declaring your everlasting devotion is not enough. Perhaps you want to do more than just spend hours online, obsessively googling "Flex Tape" and "Phil Swift." Perhaps you actually want to be Phil Swift. Great news! You can! For just a small investment of way more money than you’d probably have to spend on the average Thanos costume, you can buy a Phil Swift Halloween costume direct from the source. Well, you could at one time, but sadly they’re no longer available.
The costume, if it ever becomes available again, included a Flex Seal polo, a Flex Tape baseball cap, and several cans of Flex Seal products, so when you’re finished being Phil Swift at the company Halloween party, you can coat, seal, and protect. Once upon a time, you could also buy a life-sized Phil Swift cardboard cutout for $59.99, which means that Phil Swift is officially more expensive than Star-Lord, Chewbacca, or Daryl from The Walking Dead. But alas, like the Phil Swift Halloween costume, the Phil Swift cardboard cutout is officially no longer available. If you’re really enterprising, though, you might be able to sculpt your own Phil Swift out of a few gallons of Flex Seal.
Phil Swift has rabid fans. No, really.
If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming internet famous, of earning the everlasting adoration of millions, of becoming the star of terribly written yet somehow hilarious fan-fiction, then you need to invent some tape and star in your own infomercial. Or maybe you have to be Phil Swift to make that work.
Somehow, Phil’s winning personality and magical ability to destroy things and then put them back together have made him such a star that people actually write stories about him and post them online for the world to make fun of. "It was time to bond, seal and repair his soul," wrote one fan. In another story, Phil Swift, "The lord of darkness," plots multiverse domination and can only be subdued with "the blessed flex tape."
But wait, there’s more … Phil Swift has also inspired a slough of fan art, most of which feature the words "That’s a lot of damage!" or the classic, "I sawed this boat in half!" Fans who just can’t see themselves spending hours painstakingly recreating Phil Swift’s face or writing bad prose about him can also fill that vacant space in their hearts by joining the Phil Swift Fan Club on Steam, but vows are required: "Pray to Phil Swift daily," "Purchase Flex Tape/Flex Seal until you die," and "Saw any boat you see in half."
Phil Swift is a guitar god
Because you didn’t already have enough reasons to love and respect him, it has come to our attention that not only is Phil Swift the king of all things made out of liquid rubber, he is also a guitar god. Or at least, he is as far as we can tell based on one weird 19-second green screen video in which he plays guitar and sings about how much he loves Flex Seal.
This is a tantalizing peek into the personal life of Phil Swift, who up until now has been known only for his skill with a chainsaw and love of boating. And because we know no rational person has time to page through Phil Swift’s entire Twitter feed, we’ve done it for you! As it turns out, Phil Swift also has his own cool home music studio, complete with a whole drum kit, some electric guitars, and a wall covered with classic rock photos. Phil says he loves to go to his studio with friends and "jam on," probably using these Flex Seal guitar picks that cost $2 apiece, but what he doesn’t say is how much Flex Tape went into the design and construction of the music studio. At least we can probably assume that the room will survive the next hurricane.
Don’t eat Flex Tape
Because evidently there are people who have joked that Flex Tape and/or Flex Seal’s other line of amazing products might actually be delicious, Phil Swift felt it was necessary to post a video on Instagram warning fans to keep the stuff out of their mouths. Now, it’s not super-clear why this was something that needed saying out loud, but we are living in the Tide Pod era, after all.
Was Phil’s video a thinly veiled, "Don’t do this, but if you do, make sure you do it on YouTube where it will go viral" sort of attempt at some free publicity? Probably not, but if there’s one product that could capitalize on the Tide Pod hullaballoo other than Tide Pods, it’s Flex Tape. But whatever — it’s stupid to eat things that aren’t food. Please don’t do it.
At least it didn’t go to his head
Sometimes, fame and fortune turns you into a megalomaniac who’s too good for anyone and everything, including adoring fans. Not Phil Swift, though. Say what you will about the guy’s products and weird marketing strategy, at least he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
For proof, there’s a second JonTron video (above), which actually features the man himself, ruling Flex World, a land of Flex Seal waterfalls and Flex Tape birds and butterflies, from some high-backed wooden and vinyl throne thingy that looks like it might have come from JonTron’s grandma’s house. In the video, Phil calls JonTron "my child" and shows him something in a metal toolbox that emits golden light and opera music, which let’s face it, is not something you do unless you either don’t take yourself too seriously or are an actual supernatural being.
So which one is it? According to the Phil Swift Wiki, Phil "was born in the heart of a dying star in the Andromeda galaxy during the creation of the Milky Way." In short, you’ll have to judge for yourself.
Phil Swift really, really doesn’t take himself too seriously
It’s great to be a meme lord and also the owner of a wildly successful line of products that may or may not work as advertised. But so many normal humans would let that go to their heads! Not Phil Swift, though, who clearly has the vision to see ridicule as an opportunity to sell more Flex Tape and Flex Seal.
On the Flex Seal website, you can buy merchandise ranging from a 10"x12" decal of Phil Swift’s head to T-shirts and hats bearing Phil Swift’s most-ridiculed catchphrases, like "I sawed this boat in half!" and "That’s a lotta damage!" But true fans aren’t satisfied with just the company-approved merch, so there are also non-company-approved designs, like T-shirts featuring cans of Flex Seal, Phil Swift’s giant head, and Phil Swift with his weapons of boat and bucket destruction. Now, any other self-respecting pitchman might try shutting down those unauthorized mech-sellers, but not Phil, who has the foresight to know that anyone wearing a Phil Swift or Flex Seal T-shirt of any kind is basically a free, walking billboard. So that probably means we’ll continue to see unauthorized merchandise for as long as Flex Tape and Flex Seal continue to be A Thing. If the Flex Seal gods provide.