Curious advertisers ask – “Is it possible to draw attention to your product by starting a conversation about something else entirely?”
The rest of us, who have been marinating in a marketing stew for most of our lives, answer “Where have you been living?”
Much advertising is based on this.
Until yesterday, I would have argued that this technique took hold sometime in the last 80 years or so, pushed forward by the creation of radio and television – two mediums that offer great advantages and even greater rewards to liars and deceivers.
But I was proven wrong while scouting about aimlessly on the Internet, when I stumbled across the odd marketing approach of a window shade merchant in Yonkers, NY around the turn of the 20th century.
The American Carpet and Upholstery Journal described it this way in 1902:
William Welsh, dealer in window shades, matting, oil cloth and linoleum, 5 North Broadway, Yonkers, N.Y., is a rather daring and novel advertiser. He makes use of a 6-inch space, in a good position, in the Yonkers Statesman, and always fills it with a semi-facetious matter, which is no doubt looked for and read by the subscribers of that enterprising daily.
While this style of advertising is generally considered bad, as Mr. Welsh conducts it, the effect is undoubtedly good.
Welsh goes at his customers again and again from various odd angles, trying to get their attention with a barrage of words. Today’s advertisers use swimsuit models for the same purpose, but that wasn’t permitted in the Yonkers Statesman of 1902. Regardless of the chosen topic, he always brings it home to the real point – WINDOW SHADES.
Politically speaking, we have been lambasted, garroted, buncoed, gold-bricked, solar-plexed, sandbagged, knocked out, our picture turned to the wall, and otherwise treated with brotherly love and now we feel that we are not as other men – and to show our distinction we will have to wear a badge, but not one bought with the people’s money. It happened this way: Last fall, when the political bosses were fishing for suckers the bait looked tempting, and we swallowed the hook and were landed. Now, there would be no kick coming from lus if the bosses had not shoved whole chunks of cold political harmony down the back of our neck, remarking at the same time, “Peace be with thee, brother.” We are under the impression, from the chill it gave us, that it was not a “peace” of cold political harmony that went down our back, but the whole lump. Now the reaction is great, and our political temperature is 106 under the collar. There are sudden changes in some other things besides the weather, but no so with our WINDOW SHADES. They are always the same – A No. 1.
WM. WELSH, 5 North Broadway, Yonkers
Even when the talk is small and light, the payoff is as usual.
We met a friend of ours, this morning, who did not ask us if we liked this kind of weather, or if it was wet enough to suit us, or when we thought it would clear up, or even remark that we are having a wet spell. Now, this must seem surprising to you, but it is a fact; there are a few people in the world who think that some other people know when there is a wet spell without being reminded of it every few minutes in the day.
Now, we wish to say, right here, that we know when we are having a wet spell, and we also know when we have enough. The next time we have a dry spell we shall mind our own affairs and peg away at our WINDOW SHADES.
We have a large stock of Oil Cloths, Linoleums, Mattings, White Beds and Bedding:
WM. WELSH, 5 N. Broadway, Yonkers
We forgot to say that the man who didn’t speak to us about the weather was deaf and dumb.
Like re-hearing a well-loved joke, you already know the punch line, but the fun is all in getting there.
Recall a character from your life who only wanted to talk about one thing.