Street Car Advertising
( Originally Published 1902 )
Street-car advertising is good advertising. It reaches the people-it makes an impression, whether the impresses is in the receptive state or not. Instinctively the eye follows the rack of advertising signs, and the brilliant, bold, clever and even aesthetic card will have an opportunity of getting in its work.
The first three adjectives qualifying "card" in the preceding sentence are the adjectives for the street-car advertiser to keep well in mind. If the card is brilliant, like Siegel-Cooper Company's candlestick holiday card; if bold like Hearn's card, or clever like Sapolio's card, the attention is enchained. But the msthetic card is unbusiness-like. There must be some force about a street-car card. Porte and aestheticism do not well jibe.
Street-car advertising, I imagine, is more valuable for soaps, patent medicines and proprietory articles generally than for retail lines of business, yet I have no doubt that were a department store, a furniture house, a clothing concern or almost any line of retaildom to begin a systematic method of street-car advertising it would pay handsomely. I remember that while advertising manager for a department store outside of this city,' I conceived a very elaborate method of street-car advertising after this order:
Have the cards changed daily. On Sunday have a card -with a general announcement of the Monday bargains; on Mon-day show a card telling of the dress goods values that day offered; on Tuesday a few display lines on the sale of furniture; on Wednesday talk about the shoe selling; on Thursday about the cloak chances and so on—a fresh card every day. All this was to supplement the newspaper advertising. I remember that the late Mr. Carleton, of the then firm of Carleton & Kissam, and the writer fussed about the matter some time, but the plan in its completeness was killed by higher authorities when it left my office.
Yet I still think the plan a good one. Newspaper advertising is the best retail advertising, but even the best advertising can be made more effective with the aid of the next best.
I have traveled all over this continent, and it has often struck me that were I a national street-car advertiser I would have different cards, suitable to the view points of different localities. The card that would appeal to the cultured Bostonian would be lost on the rough and ready miner, cattleman, prospector or business man of Butte. Practically the same distinction can be made between Salt Lake and New York, or San Antonio and Detroit, and so on.
Were I a manufacturer of umbrellas or waterproofs I would seriously consider the advisability of advertising in the street cars of Portland, Ore., where it rains so much that the old settlers are termed "webfooted." Had I a cod liver oil or a cure for consumption I know it would be a good idea to advertise in the street cars of Denver and Colorado Springs, where consumptives are so numerous as to impress every visitor. Smith & Wesson could advertise their six and seven shooters with advantage in the street cars of Butte, Helena, Spokane, Tacoma, Seattle and Port Townsend, as from these towns parties are being constantly formed to go to unfrequented mining, lumbering and gaming regions.
The man who does street-car advertising must depend a lot upon the literary and artistic ability of him who prepares the cards.
Brevity is at a premium in street-car advertising. The advertiser who overloads his card with too much talk or too many " art ideas" makes a mistake. The street-car card accomplishes its mission when it can be seen at a glance and its full purport understood inside of thirty seconds.
Jingles are exceptionally valuable.
Short proverbs are also good.
Bold, clear and easily read type is the type to give expression to street-car advertising.