Glancing Back: Advertising Anecdotes

May 10, 2001
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Waste Not, Want Not

Adapting marketing to the current economic conditions, Frigidaire dealers throughout the United States presented a food thrift exhibit during the Great Depression. As reported in the May 11, 1932 News, a survey of Frigidaire refrigerator owners showed that households saved an average of $9.96 a month by purchasing food in quantity, preventing food spoilage, and using electric current instead of ice.

To dramatize the savings, Frigidaire showrooms set up tables laden with the amount of food that $9.96 bought in that dealer’s city. A placard displayed the name of the grocer where the food was purchased and the sales receipt. In the Detroit area, the groceries were purchased at the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.

One poster behind the table showed that 32% of the average family’s income was spent for food. A second poster indicated that 63% of this food required refrigeration to preserve it and protect it from contamination. A third sign detailed how refrigeration saves money.

J.J. Nance, the manager of the sales planning division of Frigidaire in 1932, thought that the exhibit impressed people, gave the salesmen an effective visual aid to go along with the thrift sales pitch, and provided a good closing argument.

In a related article, the Detroit branch of the Frigidaire Sales Corp. conducted the survey among 200 Detroit Frigidaire owners and found that the monthly savings of these households averaged $10.57. The questionnaires asked what date the Frigidaire was installed in the home, the amount of the former ice bill per week, the average electric bill for Frigidaire operation, and how long the housewife has been able to keep perishables like fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, and fresh and cooked meat in perfect condition.


The How, When, and Where of Advertising

Tidbits of real-life advertising occurrences appeared in the May 13, 1974 News. Among them were these items:

“One contractor had bought time, local spots, on the Paul Harvey Show. The contractor was advertising Lennox. A friend asked him if he realized that the same show was being sponsored nationally by Heil-Quaker and that the conflicting ads were being broadcast within minutes of each other.

“It is either convention or law that such ads must be at least ten minutes apart, but even then the contractor decided to drop his Harvey spots.”

“An unnamed manufacturer of electronic air cleaners spent $30,000 to $40,000 sending out 150,000 direct mail pieces in the Columbus, Ohio area. ‘I was with the manufacturer at the time…we received 15 leads…made one sale.’”

“The Christian Science Monitor refused to accept a contractor’s advertisement for whole-house air conditioning because, ‘I made a health claim in the advertisement.’”

Publication date: 05/14/2001

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