posted on Nov, 29 2014 @ 05:27 PM
1965 and A Big Business Wet Dream.
(Or the Black Friday Massacre)
Wiley M. Erchendise awoke one night from a fevered dream. He sat up in bed, drenched in a cold sweat and gathered his wits about him. He had had,,,,,
It was 1965 and Wiley was living in a small one bedroom apartment on the far end of Madison Avenue. He loved the fact that when he mailed his weekly
letters home to the folks in North Dakota, he could place as a return address, an address on that most wondrous street of streets, that glorious
mecca to advertising, Madison Avenue. Each time, as he printed out the letters, M A D I S O N A V E N U E, his ears seemed to ring with the peals
heavenly trumpets and a fusillade of celestial drumming.
Wiley worked as a copy boy for one of the uptown advertising agencies. This particular agency had initially achieved industry fame for a socko
campaign designed for “PasPo Taterchips” potato chips which sported a commercial in which a little boy approaches a cute little girl, holding a
bag of potato chips. As the little boy looks on, the little girl continues to eat out of her bag of chips. Finally, the little boy, overcome with
potato chip desire, politely asks, “May I have some please?” The little girl then glares at the little boy in dismissal, and replies, “These
are mine, get your own bag” as the little boy leaves with the bright idea of having his own personal bag of chips.
PasPo it seemed, was in the process of developing a new sales strategy. Rather than selling nothing but big bags filled with chips and a lot of air
that people would share, they were intent on selling smaller individual size bags with a smaller amount of chips and a smaller amount of air. The
consideration here was that more product, and air, could be sold if people purchased for themselves and stopped sharing.
Mothers across the country had cried out in angered grief. ARRRRggggggg. “We are doing our best to raise our children to be kind, sharing adults and
here is PasPo, training them to be selfish and greedy. PasPo, countered with another subliminal campaign for another unrelated product with an
undercurrent of “Mom doesn’t always know best”. The potato chip ad ran for over a year across every station on every tv in the land and
effectively altered the perceptions of a generation. The good mothers of the nation wept in disgust. Shortly thereafter, another chip company
introduced even smaller bags of flavored chips, packaged them in wrappings of five, selling what amounted to the same amount of chips, and air, as in
the original bags but for three times the price. At the time, one ad man had suggested a slogan of “All hail the Individual” but that had been
squashed as it sounded to Ayn Randish at a time when liberalism was still a viable option. Those who squashed that slogan, over cocktails, had told
the ad man, “just wait with that one, its time will come.
Back down on the lower end of the avenue, Wiley lived among a bevy of shoe salesmen and used automobile hawkers. Each Friday after work, the shoe
salesmen would like to sit around with their beer and chortle over last weeks shoe sales to women who were in no need of footwear but who were caught
in the throes of keeping up with the latest trends and fashions. They loved to brag about the customers who would come in for a single pair of shoes
but who would leave with three or four pair on account of the expert salesmanship of the various salesmen.
Not to be out-done by the shoe salesmen, the used car salesmen would recount the weeks sales of near pieces of junk foist off upon the gullible
consumer by the expert “I’m your best buddy” scam. They would out-do one another with tales of add on prices that would raise the prices of the
vehicles by 10 or 20 percent with out adding a whit of practical value to the vehicles. Oh, they were in heaven.
The thing that Wiley loved most about the used car salesmen was the gusto with which they were facing a possible calamity. The Edsel. The Edsel had,
for the past few years, been the laughingstock of Detroit. A car with so many problems that it’s line had already been canceled after only a few of
years of production. The used car “salesmen club” had begun “brainstorming”, attempting to find ways of dressing this lemon so that they could
sell it for a second, third and fourth time to unsuspecting suckers.
Wiley admired this pluck. Though he was only a lowly copy boy for that high falutin advertising agency up on the other end of Madison Avenue, and he
held big hopes of some day becoming a true “ad-man in his own right. He knew from his in-depth reading about the founding fathers of advertising
that all one really needed was one grand sweeping concept to send him on his way.
One of his favorite stories was about his personal hero, Edward Bernays. Bernays, it seems had been a double nephew to Sigmund Freud. Little
Edward’s mother had been a sister to Freud, while his father had been a brother to Freud’s wife. As a child he had been privy to the new science
of psychology and how this knowledge could be used to control some individuals in some eventualities. Wiley’s favorite tale was of the time Bernays,
while in the employ of a major tobacco firm, had been asked to consult with the organizers of one of the early women’s suffrage parades. He had
presented the organizers with an idea of having all the women in the parade hold aloft, “ little lights of freedom.” His suggestion was to use,
not candles, but lit cigarettes. They had accepted his idea and the rest was history. Many women came to equate freedom with the freedom to smoke,
something that until that time had been considered very lowbrow for a woman to do. And of course his bosses at the tobacco company had been overjoyed
to find a whole new market for their nicotine laced cancer sticks. “America, what a place”
Well, on the night in question, a night late in November, Wiley had fallen asleep after watching a “special” TV event on the second anniversary of
Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech. Wiley had thought to himself as he drifted off into slumber, “If only I could have a dream, a
dream that would that would catch the hearts and minds of his bosses, the Ad-men of Madison Avenue and the American people.
The problem, as he saw it, was that the American people still thought of themselves as people. How good it would be for the corporations and the
Ad-men of Madison Avenue if only those people stopped thinking of themselves as people, and began thinking of themselves as consumers. It was with
these thoughts, floating freely in his mind that he dropped off into his fevered dream from which his “vision” emerged.
The Christmas Season. Long had the captains of American Industry been aware that throughout the year, businesses large and small had run on a
deficit. Their ledger books were all written in red pen, and it was only with the month of December and the sales of gifts to be presented to others
at Christmas time that those ledger books could be written in black pen.