Make Ads Memorable
Were such cards of thanks ever purchased by losing candidates? I've learned of one erstwhile politician who did so. R. C. Gano told about him in the January 1918 issue of the trade magazine Simmons Spice Mill. You may not have kept your copy, so I'll summarize the story.
The loser was Thomas J. Webb of Chicago. He was a coffee merchant who ran his business like a business. He also had served for six years on the Board of Review in Cook County, trying to run government like a business even though it is no such thing.
In November of 1916 Webb ran for re-election, endorsed by every newspaper in the city. He purchased lots of advertising in the papers and on billboards, making his face and signature well known to all Chicagoans.
Somehow he lost. But then he had an original idea, and his advisers urged him to follow through with it.
This card ran for three weeks and attracted much attention. Many voters called him on the phone to say that a politician who, though a loser, appreciated the loyalty of his constituents enough to advertise his appreciation at considerable cost was the right sort. He accepted these compliments gracefully and with as little comment as possible.
There followed some really masterful coffee advertising. The price of 39 cents the pound was unusual, and was explained as the very lowest at which this better brand could be offered and the phrase, A superior blend so good that I take pride in giving it my own name and personal endorsement explained away the unusual feature of giving a man's full name to a brand of coffee.
Gano noted the cumulative effect" of Webb's strategy. A certain amount of good will attached to the political campaign, and this was carried over to the commercial campaign and undoubtedly contributed largely to its success.
Let's continue Webb's story a couple of decades. Robert J. Elisberg has blogged more than once about a conversation he once had with David P. Lewis, writer of radio commercials. When Lewis was starting out in Chicago, he worked at the same ad agency as the celebrated copywriter Isadore J. Wagner. One of their clients was Thomas J. Webb Coffee (very big in the Midwest at the time), one of Iz's big ads. David went on a know-it-all rant about how he hated the ad because it was so annoying.
Upon hearing Mortimer, a listener would freeze, waiting for the other irritating word. And in those few suspenseful seconds, he'd hear the slowly-enunciated brand name. Pretty slick.
The know-it-all upstart's supervisor pointed to a rate book. It showed that the ad was wildly successful and incredibly well-remembered. He realized that you're not writing art but trying to get the public to remember your product! (And then buy it.)