Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Profiting from Celebrity Presenters (1978)

Using celebrities in advertising campaigns has its ups and downs, according to this old marketing pamphlet I recently ran across, Profiting from Celebrity PresentersIt covers all kinds of celebrities, including actors and athletes, but I was most interested in what it had to say about the use of musical celebrities in advertising.  

The pamphlet was published in 1978 by FCB, one of the oldest advertising firms in the US, because the use of celebrity endorsers was a major advertising trend in the 1970s; research firm Gallup & Robinson found that the use of celebrity endorsers increased by 71% from 1962-1979. 

The FCB pamphlet was intended to help clients and employees anticipate and avoid the potential pitfalls of hiring celebrity spokespeople. It also provided some funny anecdotes about past ad campaigns involving famous folks.

The 32-page booklet was written by future novelist (and future Barnes & Noble creative director) Glenn Kaplan and gives an insider's view of the marketing industry as well as insights into audience attitudes toward musical pitchpeople:
Following a short-lived 1977 campaign for tractors, touted by country music stars, Prairie Farmer magazine conducted a survey among prospective tractor buyers. Although these consumers are fans of the singers used in the ads, 89.1% said that stars carried no influence whatsoever when it came to buying agricultural heavy equipment. Said one respondent, "Jimmy Dean and Ernie Ford don't give two hoops in a hailstorm about a farmer or the brands they promote."
Tennessee Ernie for Massey Ferguson
That's a reasonable perception, although it doesn't make much difference in the cut-throat world of brand marketing when the celebrity spokesperson actually does care about the brand.

For example, the real-life Jimmy Dean was personally invested in the Jimmy Dean brand of breakfast sausage, since it's named after him, but that didn't prevent the company from
unceremoniously dropping him as a spokesman in 2004. 

Dean was understandably unhappy about it. He said at the time, "The company told me that they were trying to attract the younger housewife, and they didn't think I was the one to do that. I think it's the dumbest thing, but you know, what do I know?" (Ironically, the company started using him in their television commercials again after he died.)

Pat Boone for West Bend
Pat Boone is mentioned several times in the booklet, first for his stint as a spokesman for West Bend from 1974-77. West Bend was "pleased with sales gains and awareness results" from the Pat Boone campaign but didn't renew his contact, because the "time had come ... to start telling a more complex and competitive product story." Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the celebrity endorser.

Pat crops up again in the chapter about government regulation, because his next advertising gig was for an acne medication called Acne-Statin, and it resulted in a landmark legal decision. 

Pat—a man who seemingly never had acne in his life—claimed in the ads that his daughters used Acne-Statin to stay acne free. But it was all just a big pimply lie.

Pat and Debbie Boone for Acne-Statin
The Federal Trade Commission went after both the manufacturer and Boone. Pat agreed not only to stop appearing in the ads but also to personally pony up a portion of the money that the company had to pay to disgruntled customers. It was the first time that a celebrity spokesperson had ever been held personally responsible for deceptive advertising in which he or she appeared.

Profiting from Celebrity Presenters sees the silver lining in this ruling, noting that "this new hard line can only enhance the quality of celebrity commercials, giving them even more credibility with the public." I suppose that should give me more faith in the veracity of Dionne Warwick's commercials for the Psychic Friends Network

The pamphlet concludes with an appendix of case studies: short accounts of advertising campaigns that featured celebrities such as Shirley Jones for Sunbeam; Flip Wilson for Sea & Ski; the Smothers Brothers, Bob & Ray, and Joan Rivers for California Prunes; Arthur Godfrey for Leisure World Retirement Community, etc.

In a refutation of the pamphlet, a newspaper clipping was folded up inside the copy I found. Written by Elizabeth Brenner for the February 22, 1981, edition of the Chicago Tribune, the article is "Marketing: Real people could outshine stars in ads." 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Go-Betweens: Unreleased songs in the ASCAP database

The ASCAP database contains a number of Robert Forster/Grant McLennan compositions that the duo copyrighted but never released.

If any of these songs were recorded, they might appear on the forthcoming Go-Betweens box set that will compile the group's albums Liberty Belle & the Black Diamond Express, Tallulah, and 16 Lovers Lane along with unreleased recordings and B-sides from that period.

The copyright registrations contain some interesting curiosities in addition to revealing the existence of these unreleased songs. Some examples: 

  • The full registered title of "Right Here" from Tallulah is "Right Here (Her Song)"
  • "Spirit of a Vampyre" from Tallulah is registered as "Spirit of a Vampire"
  • "Reunion Dinner" is registered as "Reunion Dinners"
  • The early outtake "Serenade Sound" is registered as "Serenade"
  • The song that is listed as "I Know What It's Like Without You" on the bootleg album The Botany Sessions is registered as "I Know What It's Like"

Among songs on which Grant is listed as the sole composer, "All Her Songs" is registered as "All Her Song" (must be a typo), and "Bathe (In the Water)" is registered simply as "Bathe."

Unreleased Forster/McLennan compositions

"A Trip to Saturn"

"Ace of Spades"

"Analogue Rock"

"Anastasias Revenge" [sic]

"Before the Thrill"

"Do You Believe in Me" (Coincidentally, the Go-Betweens' "Streets of Your Town" appeared on a compilation that included Eric Gadd's "Do You Believe in Me," a Gadd original.)

"Down Through Fortune"

"Memory Lie Down" (The title might have come from this unpublished Yeats poem. Click to enlarge.)

From Druid Craft: The Writing of the Shadowy Waters


"Outlaw" (Baby You Know, the group in which Forster's wife Karin was a member, recorded a song called "Outlaw" on their 1992 album Clear Water.)

"Rainbow Burn"


Friday, March 8, 2019

Terrifiers: 10 frightening clowns on old album covers

"Everybody loves a clown," sang Gary Lewis & the Playboys in 1965, but do they really? 

It's clear that a lot of people fear clowns, judging from the popularity of clown horror films. 

The 2017 remake of Stephen King's It, with Pennywise the Dancing Clown, became the highest-grossing horror film of all time, and that's just one example. 

So many clown horror movies have been made that a clown car couldn't hold them all. Terrifier, Clown Kill, 31, Stitches, 100 Tears, Killjoy, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Insane, and the highly anticipated (by me) Clownado are just a tiny sample of what's available. 

Digging through the vinyl bins, you might occasionally be startled to find one of these jolly fellows looking back at you.

Eddie Zima & His Orchestra – Circus Polka (Dana, 1953)

The duck does most of the killing for him.

Merle Evans & His Circus Band – Circus in Town! (Decca, 1958)


Possibly too drunk to be dangerous.

Hank Sylvern featuring Robert Q. Lewis – The Magic World of Circuses and Clowns (Lion, 1959)

The look of contentment after a big meal of children.

Clarabelle, the Norman Paris Trio – Clowns with Jazz (Golden Crest, 1957)

"Hey kids, wanna see what's in my basement?"

Antal Dorati Conducting the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra – Petrouchka (Mercury, 1955)

"How can you kill me? I'm already dead."

Charles Mingus – The Clown (Atlantic, 1957)

On oxygen after being shot several times by the cops.

Leo Arnaud & His Orchestra – Carnival in Rio (Liberty, 1956)

With arms like that, children are never out of reach.

Jimmy Bryant – Laughing Guitar, Crying Guitar (Imperial, 1966)

He laughs when they're dead, cries when they escape.

Pinto Colvig, Alan Livingston, and Billy May – Bozo Sings (Capitol, 1948)

The last thing you see when he strangles you.

Carl Stevens & His Circus Band – Music from the Big Top (Mercury, 1956)

The scary thing here is that John C. Reilly looks exactly like this when he wears clown makeup.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

1972 Joe Dowell newspaper ad for "Christmas in Ann Arbor"

This 1972 advertisement from Chelsea, Michigan's Chelsea Standard promotes Joe Dowell's single "Christmas in Ann Arbor" as a premium for customers who open a Christmas savings account at Ann Arbor Federal Savings. (Click on the ad to enlarge it.)

The text of the ad says:
Joe Dowell is the nationally famous recording star whose "Wooden Heart" was number one in the nation in nineteen sixty one. And now, Joe Dowell has written and recorded "Christmas in Ann Arbor" exclusively for AAFS Christmas Club members. When you open your AAFS CHRISTMAS CLUB, you will receive your 45 rpm record, "Christmas in Ann Arbor," with "Patapan," a French Christmas Carol on the reverse side.
When I interviewed Dowell, he didn't remember the precise date on which he recorded and released "Christmas in Ann Arbor" on his own Journey Records label, and the record itself doesn't have a date, so this ad places it at either 1972 when the ad ran or 1973 when customers received the record (if it hadn't yet been manufactured when this ad was published).

Dowell also recorded a six-song 7" EP of folk songs that was issued as a bank premium by both Ann Arbor Federal Savings and Second Federal Savings and Loan Association of Cleveland.

A Facebook commenter said that Hazel Proctor, who was vice-president of marketing for Ann Arbor Federal Savings, was the organizer behind this single.

I've written quite a bit about Dowell on this blog, because I wrote liner notes for and helped compile the 2004 Bear Family CD Wooden Heart, which collected most of Joe's Smash Records recordings from the early 1960s. 

At the time that the CD was being prepared, Dowell (who passed away in 2016) gave me a lot of interesting ephemera from his career, so I've shared much of it here. I had never seen this advertisement until today, though.

Dowell, as the ad copy mentions, had a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Wooden Heart" in 1961. He then went on to record mostly religious music and commercial jingles in the 1970s and '80s. 

Apart from a 1963 folk album that he convinced a furniture-store owner to release and a 1966 single for Monument Records, all of Dowell's recordings after he left Smash Records were either self-released, commercial jingles, or promotional recordings for organizations such as the Church World Service and Boy Scouts of America.

I previously posted some of Joe Dowell's commercial jingles here and here.

I've also posted a discography of his recordings and a lengthy three-part interview with him that starts here.

And here are both sides of this bank-premium single: