The Cellar Hole and the Sewer Hole

September 15, 2011  |   Advertising and Marketing   |     |   0 Comment

Another classic short story about advertising from The Clock that Had no Hands And Nineteen Other Essays About Advertising By Herbert Kaufman

A coal cart stopped before an office building in Washington and the driver dismounted, removed the cover from a manhole, ran out his chute, and proceeded to empty the load. An old negro strolled over and stood watching him. Suddenly the black man glanced down and immediately burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter, which continued for several minutes. The cart driver looked at him in amusement. “Say, Uncle,” he asked, “do you always laugh when you see coal going into a cellar?” The negro sputtered around for a few moments and then holding his hands to his aching sides managed to say, “No, sah, but I jest busts when I sees it goin’ down a sewer.

The advertiser who displays lack of judgment in selecting the newspapers which carry his copy often confuses the sewer and the cellar.

All the money that is put into newspapers isn’t taken out again, by any means. The fact that all dailies possess a certain physical likeness, doesn’t necessarily signify a similarity in character, and it’s character in a newspaper that brings returns. The editor who conducts a journalistic sewer, finds a different class of readers than the publisher who respects himself enough to respect his readers.

What goes into a newspaper largely determines the class of homes into which the newspaper goes. An irresponsible, scandal-mongering, muck-raking sheet is certainly not supported by the buying classes of people. It may be perused by thousands of readers, but such readers are seldom purchasers of advertised goods.

It’s the clean-cut, steady, normal-minded citizens who form the bone and sinew and muscle of the community. It’s the sane, self-respecting, dependable newspaper that enters their homes and it’s the home sale that indicates the strength of an advertising medium.

No clean-minded father of a family wishes to have his wife and children brought in contact with the most maudlin and banal phases of life. He defends them from the sensational editor and the unpleasant advertiser. He subscribes to a newspaper which he does not fear to leave about the house.

Therefore, the respectable newspaper can always be counted upon to produce more sales than one which may even own a larger circulation but whose distribution is in ten editions among unprofitable citizens.

You can no more expect to sell goods to people who haven’t money, than you can hope to pluck oysters from rose-bushes.

It isn’t the number of readers reached, but the number of readers whose purses can be reached, that constitutes the value of circulation. It’s one thing to arouse their attention, but it’s a far different thing to get their money. The mind may be willing, but the pocketbook may be weak.

If you had the choice of a thousand acres 102of desert land or a hundred acres of oasis, you’d select the fertile spot, realizing that the larger tract had less value because it would be less productive.

The advertiser who really understands how he is spending his money, takes care that he is not pouring his money into deserts and sewers.

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