February 1933 Radio-Craft
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
Star Radio Company,
in Washington, D.C., was lauded in its day for pioneering the use of humor in its print advertising. I searched
for more info on the company, but all I could find was a Library of Congress photo of a display of automatic
washers and ironers - considered as high tech in the day as any vacuum tube radio. My grandmother had one of
those wringer washing machines back in the 1960s. The wringer mechanisms were real safety hazards, hence the old
quip about there not having been so much excitement around the house since granny got her
< 3-letter word > caught in the wringer. Can I even write that in a politically correct world? Anyway,
enjoy the cartoon ads as you're waiting for the first weekend in spring.
Cartoon Advertising for Radio Service Men
Fred E. Kunkel
A follow-up cartoon which is bound to focus attention on the comic strip.
The most remunerative form of advertising has long been a matter of dispute. In this constructive article, the
author presents some interesting views on cartoon advertising.
Not all advertising clicks, and many radio dealers are merely fumbling the ball trying to score a touchdown in
their newspaper advertising. But one radio dealer, the Star Radio Company in Washington, D. C., has stumbled upon
a productive medium which challenges attention and brings home the bacon in the shape of an enthusiastic consumer
response, by using a cartoon advertising stunt, a 3-column by 50-line feature, run every other day as a means of
winning attention for their advertising and to put their radio stores in the spotlight of public attention.
People want to be amused and entertained nowadays, even in their reading, and that humorous ads help to pay dividends
in the radio selling game is aptly demonstrated by the comic strip advertising one sees coming into greater and
greater vogue every day; for these ads not only attract attention, but they also invite reading. They cater to public
demand for entertainment and that is why they are gaining in popularity every day.
"I believe that cartoon advertising attracts twice as much attention as ordinary advertising in which you simply
show pictures of radios, because it appeals to the American sense of humor and somehow strikes a responsive chord,"
says N. N. Wallack, the manager. "People nowadays like to look at something funny and at least 500 out of every
1,000 people who glance over the daily paper, will read your cartoon advertisements. Although it may not give you
immediate results, it is at least constructive advertising. Our idea is to make our name synonymous with radios,
and so far this is the most effective way we have found.
"The main thing about cartoon advertising is that it gets your name well known about town, even though it may
not result in direct selling. It has helped us. In fact, it has become so popular that I think in future years larger
concerns than ourselves are going to use it.
"My first favorable impression of cartoon advertising was when I started to smoke Murads, because with every
package comes a little cartoon advertisement, which catches the eye, and the reading matter which goes with it just
touches the spot, e.g., 'When you have accepted an invitation for dinner on Wednesday night instead of Friday -
be nonchalant - light a Murad.' This attracted my attention right away, and every time I lighted a Murad I thought
of the clever cartoon advertisements. So I decided to try it out in our advertising to see how it would work.
Advantages of This Type of Advertising
"There are many advantages in this type of advertising. For instance, a good comic strip will be read, laughed at
and talked about by many people. Sometimes on a street car, one overhears people laughing about a funny ad, and
quite often in a business office someone will say, 'Did you read that comic ad in the paper last night about the
Star Radio Company?' And if not, this person will proceed to relate it, and there is a laugh from everyone.
Above, an example of a form card distributed to residents of Cache Valley.
"In this way our name is placed on the lips of a great many people, especially the majority of newspaper readers.
When they see our advertisements so often in the papers, our name registers on their mind and they know we are a
reputable firm, and that we are going to be in business for a long time to come, also that we are dependable and
reliable. At the bottom of our ads, we have a few words to say about our service or perhaps our tubes, and other
accessories. We use less copy in cartoon advertising, and where it cost me $100 heretofore to run an ad, now I can
do it for $30.
Below, three examples of cartoon advertising that really bring results.
"We run these cartoons about three or four times a week, each of which is a different comic strip under the heading,
'Imagine My Embarrassment,' which uses the cartoon vehicle merely as an eye catcher and then, when the cartoon has
been read, the eye naturally follows the rest of the ad and the reader catches the message such as:
Imagine Your Pleasure when you take one of our new radios on trial and discover that it surpasses
in both tone and volume anything you've heard before at anywhere near the price. Deferred payments, of course.
Imagine Your Embarrassment, Too, when you overhear friends commenting on your old battery set.
But also imagine your happiness when you replace it with one of our modern radios - why not do it today?
Imagine Your Surprise when you get the bill for the repairs we make and find it's even less
than you expected. Expert workmanship at no extra cost is a certainty when you phone and get us!
Imagine Your Embarrassment, Too, when the maid brings out word that the radio is dead just as
you were expecting guests. But it needn't last - a phone call will bring an expert repair man on the run.
Imagine Your Satisfaction when you come here and know you're in the Right Store to get real
value in a radio. Our reputation for reliability is as important as the maker's reputation for quality - that's
why it pays to go to The Star Radio Co.
Imagine Your Pride when the guests at your party comment on the fine radio you got here. One
of our modern cabinet models will lend beauty to your home and add hundreds of happy hours to your life.
"The most important thing in all this advertising is that our name appears on each ad in such a way that it is
the first thing a person sees and is the first thing that registers on his mind. He is bound to see it even before
the comic strip is read. My personal opinion is that an ad, whether a full page or a half page, is absolutely fruitless
and useless without the firm name in prominent letters where it will be seen the first thing.
"I believe that ninety per cent of one's business is done through advertising, and although it may not produce
direct results, immediately, eventually you will become so well known by the public that your store will become
the logical place to buy a new radio or get a radio repaired, and you will get more than a fair share of the business
to be had because of such sales promotion and publicity.
"We have tried all types of advertising but none of them have been so effective as newspaper advertising. It
reaches more people, and where an ad is run 3 or 5 times a week, the name of the advertising firm be-comes impressed
upon the minds of the public. Billboard and novelty advertising did very little for us. It was not only expensive
but a waste of money, so now we use the newspapers exclusively.
"Cartoon advertising suits our particular needs more than any type of newspaper advertising and we intend to
use it for a long time to come. People are sick and tired of look-ing at photographs of radios because they are
the same old things, but everyone enjoys reading a new comic strip of some kind.
"Then, too, there are so many radio stores in this city that it is difficult to offer anything unusual or interesting
- besides price - through advertising. We all handle the same radios, the same accessories, so unless you can offer
the public something different and clever enough to make them remember you, you are lost, for people will not come
to you. We have solved this problem in cartoon advertising which is constructive and always provokes a laugh. It
has succeeded in putting our name on the lips of more people who will be interested in radios - eventually, if not
How many of you dealers or Service Men have experimented with advertising? If you have a "go-getter," let us
know. Space rates paid.
Do you know where to advertise for best results? Do you know what to expect from good advertising? Do you know
the best form of radio advertising? Can you make good advertising pay for itself? These and other vital questions
are answered in full by the author of this much-needed article. What do you say?
Posted March 20, 2015