Universal boxtops

Frank Edwards, in selling his short features to radio stations, mentioned that his books would serve as ‘self-liquidating premiums’. I hadn’t heard the phrase before, so started looking it up. The idea was developed by adman Duane Jones in the ’30s. His best premium was a Blarney-stone charm bracelet offered in exchange for 25 cents and a boxtop from Bab-O cleanser. Jones wrote a book on the subject in 1955, and I was enticed to read it because I wanted to see the charm bracelet. Why was it so enticing?

I finally got the book, which turned out to be fairly rare. There’s no picture, but the enticement principle was much deeper than mere appearance.

Alibris thought the book was in stock but didn’t have it, so self-liquidated the price I paid. Then I tried Abebooks and bought their last copy. Abebooks has its own nice little premium: Instead of just stuffing the sales slip into the outer envelope, the sales slip is inside a manila file folder. Thanks! I can always use file folders, and from now on I’ll look first at Abebooks.

The Jones book is short and condensed, mainly aimed at businesses who want to hire advertising agencies. In other words the book is a self-liquidating premium for Jones Advertising Agency.

Each chapter is packed with condensed wisdom, useful for business and life, and illuminating the permanent practices of business and advertisers.

Example: Radio began as infomercials, and the best shows in the ’30s and ’40s had the sponsor and product thoroughly integrated into the script. Modern bowdlerizers can’t edit out the product without losing the whole show. This was especially true with soap operas. Many of the best soap operas were written by the Hummert Ad Agency. When a premium like the Blarney Bracelet was about to be announced, the actors would display the bracelet and discuss it ‘incidentally’ for a few weeks before the announcement. The enchantment and glamour of the bracelet was built up before it was available.

Adventure serial/cereals followed the same integration method. An episode would focus on a device, then a cheap version of the device was offered as a premium. This Space Patrol episode features the control panel of a time machine, and ‘coincidentally’ you could get a cardboard simulation of the control panel by sending in a quarter and a Ralston cereal boxtop. [I had one of these cardboard panels when I was about 6, which corresponds to the date of the episode. It was good exercise for the imagination. I don’t remember watching Space Patrol, so I probably ordered it from the cereal box spontaneously.]

Modern equivalent: In 1990 soap operas morphed into Cable “News”. Same daytime audience, same plot patterns. Each major plot lasts for six months to a year, with a very slow micro-advance of plot from day to day.

News opera is no longer sponsored by soap, but the new sponsor takes the same care to integrate and build up enchantment. What’s the sponsor?


(and other Deepstate projects like the “virus” hoaxocaust and JANUARY_6_VIOLENT_INSURRECTION.)

What’s the charm bracelet? Colored ribbons and flags and emojis. The current bracelet is blue and yellow. Enchanting colors, denoting aggression and mass murder.

Soap and cosmetics don’t bomb and torture millions of innocent people. They just make houses and clothing and people more beautiful.

Bring back Bab-O.

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