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1965 and A Big Business Wet Dream. (Or the Black Friday Massacre)

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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,,,,, a……..

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.

posted on Nov, 29 2014 @ 05:27 PM
The large department store, “Macy’s” had, decades earlier, inaugurated their famous “Thanksgiving Day Parade” This parade had become a national event drawing people from around the country to their televisions and radios so that they too might partake in the nationwide spirit of the season. Behind the scenes, window dressers and merchandisers readied their products in the arms of countless Santas, assorted elves and Jesus’s to help stimulate the up coming sales. Each department store had live Santas with pudgy laps, ready and available for pictures with the little children of every family to help entice the parents in and thus be susceptible to the wiles of manipulative merchandizing.

As Wiley roused from slumber, he sluggishly stumbled towards his little kitchen table. He grabbed a pencil and piece of paper and began scribbling down what he could remember from his foggy vision.

Christmas, a time of sharing
Thanksgiving, a time of sharing.
The day after Thanksgiving. People gathering in the stores of America to share in the spirit of the season, a spirit now more and more defined and driven by marketing. It was all still to arbitrary, to open to the whims of fickle purchasing. If only it could be more directed, more focused. And then, klunk, it all slipped into place. His vision was defined.

What was needed was for people to not only purchase for gifting, but for them to buy for themselves at the same time. However, the season traditionally had been a season of gifting, of sharing, being anchored on either end by the two holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. What was needed was (heavenly trumpets blare and drums roll) a third holiday. A holiday dedicated not to Jesus, not to friendly Pilgrims and Indians, but a third holiday dedicated to each and every consumer. It could still be dressed up in jingle bells and turkey feathers, but it would orient towards self gratification. Not greed, no that would be pushing the envelope a little to far.

Present the individual person, no, not person rather, consumer with sparkling products at greatly reduced prices( prices of course marked down from grossly inflated prices to begin with) and hold this new holiday,,,,when?,,,,,, the day after Thanksgiving while every one was still in a triptphanic stupor. Genius.

Oh, scribbled Wiley as a remembered thought crossed his mind. Only that summer many people had taken to camping outside of Yankee Stadium in hopes of getting game tickets before they sold out. And of course there was the famous concert just held by the Rolling Stones where some rockers had actually camped for a week in front of the ticket box just to get a shot at those coveted tickets. Indeed, the old adage popped up in Wileys mind. Limit the availability and people will flock to buy…. One day sales extravaganzas.

“So”, as Wiley sat before his ad-man supervisor the following morning recounting his new brain storm, “we can call it “Black Friday” by way of honoring all the ledger books that will now be written in black pen, while all the consumers will think that they are doing their parts to bolster the American economy. And more, we can get local radio and TV stations, hell, national broadcasting systems to report on all the excitement on their nightly news. Everybody will want to be part of it.”

As might have been figured by most anyone with an IQ hovering somewhere above a soggy potato chip, within the week, Wiley’s supervisor had taken the dream up-stairs to his bosses and the whole thing was set in motion. It would take years, years to sway the American people from a concept of seasonal sharing to personal consumerism through sales “Events” for it to work but, give it time, the tide of offering the American public access to it’s lowest wishes would prevail.

Wiley’s supervisor of course made no mention of Wiley’s involvement in this grand plan to his bosses, indeed, taking all the credit for himself. Wiley, two weeks later was terminated due to downsizing in the copy boy department and was presented with a glowing recommendation for a position in a used car lot somewhere on the outskirts of Fargo. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Wiley now is a week end supervisor of sales, making a killing on “weather coating” add-ons of which he pockets 20 percent of each sale. Ain’t America grand?

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