Sponsor Dilemma:

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.

Palmolive Radio Hour ListingThe 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.