Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

January 2019

Happy New Year!

I want to tell you about a disruptive advertising medium that’s sure to be a winner. Every so often, a new medium barges in and takes over. I am old enough to have lived through a ton of them.

Fair enough: I missed vaudeville but I listened to a lot of radio. I remember Snooky Lanson, the singing star of the 1950s series Your Hit Parade, and the Lucky Strike extra — a song that hadn’t made the charts but could soon.

Television started with test patterns and then took over with productions of old radio formats: the soap opera, quiz shows, detective series. I remember the Martin Kane, Private Eye shows sponsored by United States Tobacco Co. Martin (played by William Gargan) would always stop by a shop to pick up pipe tobacco, chatting with the shopkeeper about all the brands.

Brand-sponsored shows: Gillette and Pabst Blue Ribbon did fights, Old Gold’s dancing cig-packs encouraged us kids and our parents to light up. Milton Berle’s popularity closed movie theaters. Kraft Foods used Perry Como to hook people up with Miracle Whip and Velveeta. It didn’t take long for local stations with network affiliations to begin to approach local businesses with “avails*.”

Print media published TV schedules. Heck, TV Guide claimed to be the biggest “thing” on television. WATS lines were touted as service lines for distant customers, and ways for TV watchers to order Time-Life Books (print media advertising on television to get direct response over the telephone).

800 numbers turned into 900 numbers where the callers paid per-minute charges to listen to stuff. Radio ads on rock stations urged fans to get the latest on the hottest groups.

Every time a new wave started up, it was exploited as an advertising medium. For whatever reason you bought a fax machine and designated a line to it, you unplugged it the morning after you came to work to find 50 feet of Thermo-Fax paper heaped on the floor, often with the same message from the same sender who hadn’t mastered the art of fax-blasting.

So, what now? Internet? Click-through? Website? Facebook? We recently called a business to qualify it for a free subscription and were greeted with a recorded message to contact them via text, through their website, “or you can tweet us @ ....”

How can print media survive? Of course, simply by getting read by qualified readers.

What a concept!

*“Avails” are unsold units of network time available for broadcasters to sell to local advertisers.