The Great Campaign
( Originally Published 1917 )
RODNEY'S back was turned on his old life now,— there was no doubt of that. The boy was usually the first after Mary to reach the office. Peale was always late.
I say, Peale," Rodney would say, " you're late again. It's got to stop. Here it is ten o'clock."
" Don't scold, little boss," Peale would answer, as he hung up his coat. " That blamed alarm clock—first time in my life it didn't go off."
" I'm afraid that's old stuff," Rodney would answer sternly.
One morning Peale looked at the little boss in great surprise.
" Holy Peter Piper, you've shaved off your mustache," he ejaculated.
" Yes," said Rodney, grinning, " I'm just beginning to get on to myself. By George, I certainly used to look like the devil. Do you observe the clothes? " he added, rising and turning round.
"Why, you're getting to be a regular business man. My tuition," said Peale.
" You bet your life. Business is great fun," said Rodney. " I thought it would bore me, but it's immense; it's the best game I ever played. What's the news with you ? "
" Well, I've been on father's trail," answered Peale. " We only just got back from Buffalo this' morning."
" We? " queried Rodney.
"Yes, your father and I," Peale explained. " He went to the Iroquois in Buffalo. I had all the billboards in the neighborhood plastered thick — and forty-eight street stands along the streets to the Union Station; from the time the old man got in until he got out, he couldn't look anywhere without seeing 13 Soap. I even found out the number of his room, and had a small balloon floating 13 Soap streamers right outside his window. I took a page in all the Buffalo papers—bribed the hat boy to keep putting circulars in his hat every time he checked it — and sent him one of our new folders every mail. I came back with him on the train, and when he went into the washroom last night I had the porter say, ` Sorry, sir, we ain't got( no 13 Soap, but you can't hardly keep any on hand — it's such grand, grand soap.' "
Another day Rodney allowed that all they had done was great business along the line of their drive at father, but he had a fine new idea, too.
"When you go into a barber shop, where do you look? " he asked Peale.
" At the manicure," said Peale promptly.
" No, no, at the ceiling," Rodney explained. " We'll put signs on all the barbers' ceilings."
" It's been done," said Peale scornfully. " Is that what you call a great new scheme.?
" Well, that wasn't my big idea," Rodney hedged.
" No; well, what is your big idea?" inquired Peale mockingly.
" Plans for our new factory," Rodney answered. " Plans for what? Have you gone dippy? " " Here they are," said Rodney, producing a large blue print. " Pretty real looking, aren't they? "
You don't mean you've actually got some nut to build us a factory? " shouted Peale.
" No, no, they are to impress father; don't you see?"
" Oh - yes ; well that is an idea," admitted Peale.
" If he ever does drop in to make a deal," said Rodney, " I thought we ought to have something to make a front; something that looks like a plant."
Plant is right," averred Peale.
" And by the way, if we can, let it leak out that it's the Ivory Soap people who are backing us with unlimited capital," went on Rodney.
" The Ivory Soap people? " Peale inquired.
" Sure, father's always hated 'em in business," explained Rodney. " His oldest friend, though, is John Clark, one of the big bugs in Ivory Soap. Clark's got a son Ellery that father dislikes be-cause he's such a success in business; -- always held him up to me as a model son to pattern by. It would make father wild if he thought that old Clark was going to back us. Ivory Soap's the only bunch he's never been able to lick —"
" Then that scheme ought to be good for a great rise out of father. Say, by the way, I put over a corner on him this morning," chattered Peale. " I arranged for a parade of sandwich men up and down in front of his house. When he got to his office there was another bunch there."
" We're bound to land him sooner or later," Rodney agreed; " keeping after him the way we have."
" Just as sure as it pays to advertise," said Peale.
" Isn't it funny, though, that nobody's tried to buy any soap from us yet?" asked Rodney with some anxiety.
This was a very tender point with the soap company. Mary and Rodney worried over it, and Rodney dreamed at night about it.. An occasional small order that might filter in from some remote outlying district, or some small merchant whose credit was doubtful, was gazed upon as parents gaze at their first baby. Peale was the bachelor of the crowd, and seemed not to care whether they were productive or not.
" It takes time to create a demand," he would say; but admitted that the two hundred cakes of pink castile they had bought looked swell in their old rose wrappers. It was a pity they hadn't got a couple of hundred thousand dollars to go after this advertising thing on the level, instead of just for father. Neither he nor Rodney knew how, much money they had left.
" Don't ask me," said Peale. " I'm not a financier. Where's our worthy book-keeper, Miss Grayson? " he added, looking at his watch. " It's nearly eleven."
" I'll bet she was here before either of us; she always is. By George, isn't she a corker?" began Rodney lyrically.
" Oh, she's all right," agreed Peale indifferently.
All right ! Why, the girls you read about don't mean anything compared to Mary," began the ecstatic lover. " She's got Juliet beat a mile. Every time I think of her I want to yell or do some other darn fool thing, and every time I see her I just want to get down and kiss her shoes."
Rodney said all this and could have said much more, but Peale's mind was on other things.
" If we could only land one hard wallop on father after that Buffalo business," he reflected sadly, still on business.
"Didn't you hear what I said?" demanded Rodney indignantly.
" Not a word," said Peale.
" I was talking about Mary."
" I know you were. That's why, I didn't listen," said Peale delicately.
" Speak of the goddess," he added, as Mary just then entered.
She was dressed neatly and appropriately to her new role, distinguishing between the tone of the old Martin offices and this new enterprise into which she had been drawn by such curious processes. To Rodney as always, this morning and every morning, she was a vision of loveliness, a refreshment for tired eyes.
" Ah, you're here," he said joyfully; " now everything's all right; it's a great world."
" Don't be silly," said Mary briskly; " this is a business office."
" By George, Mary," began Rodney again. " Miss Grayson! " corrected Mary.
" By George, Miss Grayson, you do look simply stunning. You're twice as pretty today as you were yesterday, and to-morrow you'll be —"
" Hey, hey, change the record, or put on a soft needle," put in Peale good-naturedly. Mary re-warded him with her approval.
"Quite right — in business hours only business,"' she said.
" But you certainly are the prettiest thing," persisted Rodney.
" Am I? " said Mary.,
" Well," said Peale, " it looks to me as if you two were going to play another love scene, so I shall attend to a little business. Exit advertising manager up stage," he laughed, going out.
" By George, Mary, it seems a hundred years since yesterday — I do love you," Rodney began again, when they were alone.
" Do you really? "
" Why, of course."
" It isn't that you're just in love with love, suggested Mary with a thoughtful look, " and that I've been very blue-eyed and baby-faced? "
" I should say not," protested Rodney. " Why, you're not a bit like that."
Oh! Why do you love me, then?"
"I don't know."
You see? " said Mary accusingly.
"I mean why does anybody love anybody," Rodney expounded. " I can't explain. It's just that you're you, I guess. I can't talk the way they do in books; I wish I could. All I know is that if you left here I'd quit too. I'd just. want to walk around after you all the rest of my life and say, `Are you comfortable, my love? Are you happy?' If there is anything on the wide earth you want let me get it for you, Mary. What a wonderful name that is — just like you; simple and honest and beautiful. Mary ! "
" And you really love me like that?" asked Mary.
" No. A million times more."
" Oh, Rodney, Rodney," she said, almost crying. " What's the matter,'' asked her lover anxiously. " You love me too, don't you? "
" It means a lot to me to see you succeed," sighed Mary.
" But it isn't just the success — just the money, is it ? " queried the boy.
Mary paused a while and then answered, " No, I don't think it is."
" Then when will you marry me? " he began eagerly.
" Not in business hours —"
" Very well, we'll wait till after six."
"No, you agreed not until you'd made good."
" I know, I know, but it's mighty hard to be engaged and not to be allowed to kiss you. You won't even let me come to see you — much. It's all just business. Do you love me? "
" Do you doubt that I do? "
" No, but I'd like to hear you say you do."
" I won't gratify your vanity. We must stick to soap and advertising. Is that understood? "
" I suppose so, for today anyhow," he agreed, then leant over and kissed her suddenly.
" Oh, Rodney," protested the secretary.
" They say stolen kisses are sweetest, but I don't think so," he said, laughing. " They're so darned short. Won't you give me a real one? "
Mary shook her head.
" No — now to business."
Rodney sat down again with an air of resignation.
" Well, then if this is a business office, what do you mean by not getting down here till nearly eleven? " he demanded sternly. He did not really think she had been remiss; he was only teasing her, of course. He was the optimistic one, and knew things were all right. Peale had hypnotized him with his advertising magic.
It had been great fun reading the c ads." They had seemed so large and conspicuous and inescapable. You would have thought that every reader of the newspapers, every traveler in the cars or busses in the special section marked out by Peale for old Mr. Martin's benefit, would have ordered 13 Soap straightway next morning, whether they needed more toilet soap or not. Rodney had positively a feeling of self-consciousness as he walked down town in the morning. There was a half formed thought in his head that he might even be pointed at in the streets as the president of the great 13 Soap Company. Now Mary's grave face and her cool ways when he would have made love to her chased all such business reveries into thin air.
" I was here at nine," said Mary.
" I knew it. But where've you been?
" That's what I've got to tell you. I'm sorry it's such bad news."
" It can't be very bad if it comes from you."
" But it is — I've been out trying to raise money."
" Why, Mary, are you in trouble ? "
" No, but I am afraid you are."
" If you wanted money why on earth didn't you come to me? " asked Rodney.
" Because you haven't any. This firm's broke." " But we can't be."
" I was surprised too when I balanced the books this morning," said Mary; " but you've: spent a lot these last two days. Here's a statement of assets and liabilities — you owe twenty-two thousand, eight hundred and eighteen dollars and nine cents." " Great Scott — what are our assets? "
One hundred and thirty-three dollars and thirteen cents."
Rodney shook his head courageously.
" That's quite a showing for a month," he chaffed.
" And Mr. McChesney, the advertising man, was here this morning too. He won't wait any longer for his money," went on Mary.
" But we paid him five thousand dollars not long ago."
And we still owe him nine thousand four hundred," said Mary. " Unless he gets two thousand five hundred of it to-day, he says he will put you out of business."
" You didn't manage to raise any money while you were out, did you? " Rodney asked, pocketing his qualms about the source of Mary's capital.
" Not a cent," said Mary. " And you haven't heard from the Countess since that day she signed the contract? "
" Not a word," said Rodney, and added hope-fully, but maybe we shall soon."
I don't know what we're going to do," said Mary, sighing.
But Rodney was still hopeful and inclined to cheer up.
"The important thing is, I've got you anyhow," he said happily, just as Ambrose Peale came in again.
" Well, well, well, still spooning, eh? " said Peale. " Say, son, I've just learned a lot from that advertising agent down stairs. Great little guy, full of facts and figures. He gets paid fifty thousand dollars a year for writing ads."
Peale was incorrigible, and today his talk, in the face of their actual condition, got on Mary's nerves a little. She interrupted impatiently.
" Never mind him," she said to Rodney, " we're broke."
" Nonsense — some mistake in the books,' said Peale.
" Is it? Here's a statement of our liabilities," she said, holding up a paper: " twenty-two thou-sand, eight hundred and eight dollars, and nine cents."
" What's the nine cents for? " Peale wanted to know, reading. " Assets one hundred and thirty-three dollars and thirteen cents. That's a lucky hunch—thirteen—well, why not change the headings? Make the liabilities the assets and the assets the liabilities. See, like this," and he scribbled on a pink pad that he carried with him:
" Liabilities, one hundred and thirty-three dollars and thirteen cents; assets twenty-two thousand eight hundred and eighteen dollars and nine cents -- merely a matter of book-keeping," he added cheerfully, jabbing the pink paper on a hook.
" You'd make a wonderful expert accountant," said Mary scornfully.
" And McChesney's coming here today for money --- cash," Rodney put in, trying to take Peale down.
" He is? Well then we won't do anymore business with him," said that incorrigible.
" No, I guess we won't," repeated Mary sardonically.
" He's got to have twenty-five hundred immediately," continued Rodney.
" He has, eh? said Peale. That's the trouble of dealing with business men. They're so particular about being paid. Now you take actors —"
To Mary and Rodney, however, the thing seemed serious. If McChesney did give them any financial publicity it would finish them with Rodney's father. Peale told them not to worry. They would fix father somehow. Nobody could stop good advertising. Why, honest, he used to think he knew something about ads, but after he'd talked to this fellow downstairs for ten minutes he learned more than he ever had dreamed of. And believe him, he was a pretty good dreamer too.
" You really think we ought to go right on spending money advertising? " asked Mary. 1 " Sure. That's all we can do," said Peale. " Why, the Ingersoll people advertised a year before they put the dollar watch on the market just to create a demand. That's our game."
" But it's mighty expensive," Rodney objected. " You said we could last a month on twenty thou-sand dollars."
" I know, I know," said Peale, " but these things always cost a little more than you figure on."
" A little more ! " echoed Mary, flourishing her statement.
" I suppose we might as well owe forty thousand as twenty," said Rodney.
" Certainly, and as a matter of fact we're pikers," said Peale. "We haven't really been spending anything. Why, if we just had the money — but don't get me started on advertising. "You know me."
" Go ahead — I shouldn't mind hearing some-thing cheerful," said Rodney.
" Cheerful," said Peale. " My boy, advertising's the most cheerful thing I know. It can do anything but keep you from coming into the world and going out of it."
" I'd believe in it more if we were making money," said Mary.
" Patience, dear lady, patience," Peale counseled. " Did you ever hear of the National Cloak and Suit Company?"
" No," said Rodney.
" I have," said Mary.
" You see, she has," said Peale. " Well, the guys that ran that company suddenly thought of a scheme — Tailored suits by mail.— See, measure yourself." He measured his chest. " Thirty-six, see." He measured his waist. " Forty-eight. That kind of thing. New idea in the business — absolutely. Fitting women they had never seen. Everybody laughed at 'em — couldn't be done. Why? Never had been. Gee, that's a great argument, isn't it? But they plunged — spent all of three hundred dollars right in a bunch. That was ten years ago. Last year they spent three hundred and fifty thousand dollars advertising and sold a million suits to a million women they never saw. What did it? Advertising."
" And you know when Bryan advertised the grape juice high ball," Rodney added quizzically, " its sale went up six hundred and fifty-two gallons a day? "
" Nix, nix, I'm not pulling any of that stuff now," said Peale. " This dope is on the level." " It's hard to believe," sighed Mary.
" And yet it's true," Peale maintained; " but that's nothing. What do you think the Victor Phonograph Company gave up last year for advertising? "
" A hundred thousand dollars," said Mary.
" Two hundred thousand dollars," said Rodney.
" You're warm, you're warm, both of you," said Peale. " One and one half millions. Fifteen hundred thousand dollars, ladies and gentlemen."
" On a phonograph? That's ridiculous," said Mary.
" That couldn't pay," Rodney protested.
" Of course it couldn't," Peale mocked. " Their gross receipts for the year were only sixty-six mil-lion dollars, and each year they spend more money and sell more machines and more records. Why, in nineteen hundred and seven, during the panic, when everybody had cold feet and began to shut down, they appropriated an extra three hundred thousand dollars on publicity, and what happened? No, they didn't increase their sales, but they kept them right where they were, and when lots of other businesses were going broke they continued making money.
" All this is mighty interesting," Rodney admitted.
" I never dreamed people spent that much money advertising," said Mary.
" Neither did I," said Peale; " and say, when you talk about our piking liabilities, do you happen to know what real advertising costs? Ever hear of the Ladies' Home Journal?"
"Sure," said Rodney, smiling.
" Ever read it? "
" I should say not," said Rodney indignantly.
" I read it every month," Mary admitted.
" You see," said Peale triumphantly, " she reads it. The women all do, and they tell the men what they've been reading. Men may not read the Ladies' Home Journal, but they hear about its ads
word of mouth advertising."
" Granted — but what's the point? " asked Rodney.
" You read the Saturday Evening Post, don't you ? " demanded Peale.
" Sure. Philadelphia's biggest export," said Rodney.
" Exactly. Well, the Ladies' Home Journal and the Post are run by the same publishers. Journal twice a month and Post once a week. Their receipts from advertising in 1913 were one million dollars a month — and do you know what they charge for space? The back page in the Journal costs for one insertion ten thousand dollars, for the Post seven thousand, and as the Post comes out weekly that means twenty-eight thousand a month. Of course, if you want a measly inside page, that's just a trifle of forty-five hundred."
" It's too amazing," came from Mary upon this information, and from Rodney the mystified query:
And they really get those prices? "
" My boy," said Peale, " the back page, in the Journal is taken for the next two years. People are fighting now to get in the 1916 Christmas issue. That's how far ahead they lay out their campaigns, and that's another funny thing about advertising. You'd think once a trademark was established it would last, but not a bit. You've got to keep plugging. Remember Spotless Town? "
" Sure — Sapolio, wasn't it? asked Rodney.
" I knew the girl who wrote the ads," said' Mary.
" Well," said Peale, " after a while they quit on it, and then Sapolio's sales went way down; but now I hear they're going to revive Spotless Town this year and try to come back. But it would have been so much better if they'd never gone away."
" You're not stringing me in all this? " put in Rodney skeptically.
" No. I got it all from this guy — and he knows. Think what a great trademark we've got; and he says that's seventy per cent. of the battle.. Do you remember Sunny Jim? "
" Certainly— I can see his picture now," said Rodney, and Mary remembered him too.
" What did he advertise? " Peale demanded. But neither Rodney nor Mary remembered that, they said.
Exactly," said Peale. " Well, he advertised a breakfast food called Force."
" Oh, yes, of course."
" But you forget that," Peale explained, " and that was why Force canned Sunny Jim. He was the thing that stuck by you — the advertising was more important than the goods. You remembered Jim, but you forgot Force. Bad publicity. And that's where we've got the bulge. The 13 Soap — it's great — it's got imagination Soap — a fact — 13, unlucky — unlucky for what? Why, dirt. Imagination, superstition, humor. Cleanliness, soap — all associated in one phrase. Plus buncombe, good old bunk for the pinheads — the most expensive soap in the world. And think of the advantage we have that we're selling soap. People know whether automobiles go or not — if clothes wear well, or collars crack, or soups taste good, or furniture falls apart, or roofs leak, or phonographs can't talk. There you have to deliver the goods; — but soap or dental cream, or tooth powder or cold cream, who really knows anything about 'em? Who can tell anything about 'em? Can you ? I can't. All you have to do is to make 'em smell nice."
Rodney began to take fire again from this enthusiasm.
" By George, it's wonderful, colossal, I never realized it," he began.
" Neither did I," assented Mary.
" Kind of beginning to believe in advertising? " buzzed Peale.
More than ever; but then you convinced me the first time you talked about it," said Rodney.
" Then don't go up in the air, either of you," said the ex-press agent, when I mention that while I was downstairs just now I got that fifty thousand dollars a year chap to promise to write some ads for us. I signed a contract for ten thousand dollars' worth more space."
" Good Heavens ! " cried Mary.
" I didn't know then we were broke," said Peale, assuming the defensive.
Rodney, with Mary's figures fresh in his mind, wondered where the money was coming from, but Peale was equal to that too.
" From father," he said; " when we've created a big enough demand he just can't help coming in with us. That's business."
Mary hoped so, and as for Rodney he was growing more and more enthusiastic, and chimed in:
" I know so. By Jove, if other people can do those things by advertising we can. We'll keep on. We'll manage somehow."
" I like to hear you say that," said Mary, quieting her doubts.
" Now you're talking," said Peale; you're going on spending money on publicity, and that's my idea of real conversation."
Once more the enthusiasm of Ambrose Peale carried the day. Mary pocketed her statement and her qualms as best she could, half believing he was right, as she looked at Rodney's irradiated face.
Of course the question of capital had not even yet been quite solved. Why wait till it was all paid in, objected Peale, who had been too eager to begin to wait for a detail like that. Rodney's one thousand, and the money from the car and aeroplanes, Mary's five thousand and the ten thousand from William Smith had come in and gone out again, by the time Mary's statement was made up. There remained only the Countess and her money to look forward to for the present and the immediate future, and she was expected soon.