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Evening public ledger. [volume] (Philadelphia [Pa.]) 1914-1942, December 22, 1914, Night Extra, Image 14

Image and text provided by Penn State University Libraries; University Park, PA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045211/1914-12-22/ed-1/seq-14/

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A Story of Public Service t
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Some people believe that advertising merely takes business away from
one man and hands it to his competitor. They think that if everybody
stopped advertising, business would go on just the same, and things would
be cheaper. It sounds plausible. But it is not true.
ADVERTISING is, of course, much l
used as a competitive weapon,
and a very powerful one. Any
,method of selling advertising,
show windows, clerks, traveling men
gets business that without the selling effort
would have gone to some other firm.
Most of us believe that competition is a
good thing. It keeps down prices. It keeps
up quality. It makes business men more
eager to give the public good service. Any
economical method of competition ought
therefore to be regarded as a benefit to the
public. And the economy of advertising
purely as a competitive method has been
so clearly demonstrated in many great
industries over a period of years that it
need not be discussed here.
The main question, however, is : What
does advertising do besides stimulate com
petition? As a matter of fact, its chief use lies
entirely beyond. It creates new markets,
new demands, new desires. It makes pos
sible new products, new ways of doing
things, a better national life.
The Story
In one of our large cities, a few years
ago, fifty-one per cent, of the stock of the
local gas and electric company was
acquired by a national public-service or
ganization. The way the new manage
ment went about its job sent thrills of '
apprehension through the minority stock
holders, who were local citizens. The
dividends paid the year before amounted
to $14,000. Immediately the new board cut
the price of both gas and electricity. Fig
ures showed that, with the same consump
tion as the year before, the total dividends
& the new rates would be only $4000.
No Competition
; But there lay the difference. The con
sumption was not going to be the same.
The company began a strong campaign of
advertising. To the local stockholders this
ieemed ruinous folly. They reasoned,
Have we not a complete monopoly? We
Control exclusive franchises on both gas
mxd electricity. Why in theild should
pe spend money to advertise when we
Iswflsre 'em both coming and going?"
K ever a case existed where advertising
solely for competitive purposes would have
been absolutely futile, this was it. . The
cornpany certainly had the city both coming
and going. But the' answer was, "We are
not going to spend money in advertising.
We are going to invest money in adver
tising." Half pages began to appear in the news
papers. In the course of a year the gas
and electric company used more space
than any of the department stores, which,
of course, had been up to that time the
heaviest advertisers in the city.
Cooking schools to show women the
merits of the gas range were installed
and advertised. Men who had never
thought of the saving of labor and expense
possible by using small electric motors in
their shops found out through adver
tising. Local merchants were shown the
increased trade that they could get by
having their stores better lighted. Electric
signs were popularized.
What Happened?
The first year the advertising sold
seven carloads of gas stoves. It sold coke
at a fair price, instead of at a loss as before.
It sold gas heaters, irons, fixtures and
novelties. It put in 124 new electric
motors for small power users. It put up elec
tric signs and ornamental lighting effects.
In these ways, as well as through the
stimulation of ordinary consumption, it
very greatly increased the use of gas and
electric current.
At the end of the year the total divi
dends,which estimates had said were going x
down to $4000, were $44,000. At the end
of the second year of the same policy the
aggregate dividends were $76,000. And
this with all billsfor advertising paid. And ,
with the public buying its gas and electric
ity far cheaper than it ever had before.
But, apart from better dividends and
lower price to the consumer, what did the
advertising do for that city?
What Was the Effect?
It gave the city better-lighted stores
and streets. It put labor-saving 'devices
into hundreds of homes. It cut the cost of
operatipn for scores of small, struggling
manufacturers. It showed people how to
got and use things that made their lives
cleaner and easier. It made, in short, a
more comfortable, more alert and prosper
ous community.
What local advertising did in that city,
national advertising is doing all the time
for the nation. We pick up a number of
The Saturday Evening Post and, seeing the
advertising of 17 makers of men's clothing,
we think, "Here are all the manufacturers
just advertising against one another." We
forget that advertising of ready-made
clothing has made this a better-dressed
nation, that it has showed Hundreds of
thousands of men the way to cheaper
and better fitting clothes, that it is always
effectively preaching the gospel of the
importance of looking well.
Creating Human Activity
Advertising is like the railroad, the
trolley, the telephone, the newspaper, the
school a creator of human activity. Like
all of these, it is a force for the wider and
quicker dissemination of information, It
brings within our ken things that we
never knew existed, or never thought we
wanted. It teaches us to want things a
little beyond our grasp and to work a
little harder in order to get them. It is
like the rifle that the modern Tom Saw
yer saw in the window. He had intended
to loaf all summer, but he wanted that
rifle., In order so get it he had to have
money. , To get money he went out and
painted fences and ran errands and mowed
lawns. The knowledge that there was a
rifle that he could have if he worked for
it made him a producer instead of a de
pendent, i
True Public Service
It we believe in a constantly advancing
civilization, if we believe that people ought
to keep on trying to live a little better and
have a little more comfort, a little more
convenience and a little more ambition it
our philosophy includes these tenets, then
we must belieie that whatever shows people
the way and rouses their ambition to pos
sessand to produce in order to possess
-s a public service. It is upon that basis
that ae declare advertising to be, not
primarily a weapon of competition, but
primarily a nieans of constructive public
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