How To Sell The Product
On The Air?
Lincoln, Me. (DG) --
If you look at the
listings of radio programs during the first few seasons of
network broadcasting, you would notice programs like THE IPANA
TROUBADOURS, THE EVEREADY PROGRAM, THE A&P
GYPSIES, etc. You might notice a connection with the sponsors'
names in the shows' titles. Since it paid the expenses, the sponsor had the
right to see its name on the program, but that wasn't the real reason. The
real reason was direct advertising back then wasn't allowed. With some
programs, the show's title was the only way to inform the listeners of the
product. The trick was--- how to inform the listeners of the product
during the program within the confines of the rules of radio advertising? Some clever methods were used in achieving this goal. One example was THE
CLIQUOT CLUB ESKIMOS on NBC's Red Network.
Without even mentioning the Cliquot Club name, "The
Cliquot Club Eskimos," a 6-piece banjo group led by Harry
Reser, played a style of music that was considered "sparkling."
This was fitting, because Cliquot Club Ginger Ale was a
sparkling soft drink. That was an indirect way of letting the radio
listeners know about the sparkling content of Cliquot Club, although
nothing was said about it.
On the program and in public, The Cliquot Club Eskimos
were attired in winter suits and boots. Of course, this was a visual way
of selling the product. While it sold ginger ale hand over fist, being
dressed like this must be interesting if the studio they were performing
in was at room temperature!
The Cliquot Club Eskimos was an example of a musical
group named after the sponsor. This was the usual procedure when the
program featured a musical group--- but how about those programs that
didn't have a musical group? No problem with the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet
Company, the makers of Palmolive Soap. The company
simply changed the names of 2 people who starred on their first
network program, THE PALMOLIVE RADIO HOUR.
The Palmolive program was one of the most prestigious
programs during the first years of network radio. It was a musical variety
program that featured singers Frank Munn and Virginia Rea--- although the
radio listeners never heard those names on the air. On the program, Munn
and Ms. Rea went under the alias "Paul Oliver" and "Olive
Palmer" respectively. Guess which famous soap product had
a similar name to the program's 2 stars??!! Mentioning those names
together on the air (and they did sing duets together) must have been a
real challenge for program announcer Alois Havrilla.
While the direct selling of the product on the air wasn't allowed, some
sponsors went as far as they could--- even to present an actual
commercial announcement, which was as aggressive as a sponsor could go. Case in point, NBC(Red's) THE LaFRANCE ORCHESTRA. On this
program, there were commercials for LaFrance Bluing Flakes
that were similar in length and content as the radio commercials of the
future. The only difference was the announcer mentioned the type of product LaFrance
was and what it could do for the laundry.
When network radio began to establish itself, the restrictions of radio
advertising was also lifted. The sponsor still listed their
product in the program's name, but there were also commercials
featuring announcers trying to convince the radio audience to buy the
product. This was the best of all worlds for the radio sponsor.