Radio Icons Paul Harvey, P&G Illustrate Radio & Marketing

 See full size image This month, during extremely challenging times, we remember the importance, significance, and impact of two great stories of radio and marketing in history. One is of the iconic Harvey and his contribution to radio as well as America. The other is an iconic company whose Depression-era leader made a major decision about marketing that would set the stage for radio, tv, and its international status today. Right around the time Paul Harvey was beginning his career in radio in the early 1930s, Richard Deupree was taking the helm at Proctor & Gamble at the beginning of the Depression. A recent article in Investors Business Daily illustrates the gamble on marketing and radio that Deupree took.

IBD reporter Doug Tsuruoka writes, “The stock market was teetering from the crash of October 1929. Banks and other companies in America were going belly up. Millions were unemployed, and ripples from the crisis crippled economies worldwide. Deupree kept his cool. Under him, P&G honed a growth strategy that found traction even in the worst recessions. It involved pouring money into ad budgets, even as rivals cut costs to the bone.”

“One of Deupree’s first moves was to ramp up P&G’s advertising budget. Shareholders were clamoring to cut ad spending. He told managers and shareholders that the secret to success in hard times lay in keeping P&G’s name in the public eye.”

“To do that, Deupree tapped radio. In 1933, P&G hitched its new soap product, Oxydol, to “Ma Perkins,” a popular daytime radio drama. Sales of Oxydol surged, and an American original — the soap opera — was born.”

“Deupree went on to dominate share of voice in radio advertising,” said Derrick Daye, managing partner of the Blake Project, a Tampa, Fla.-based brand consultancy. As a result, P&G would “thrive during the ’30s and build an unassailable lead for the rest of the century.”  

These two icons of radio, Paul Harvey and P&G remind us that the medium played and plays a significant role in America’s success and more generally that strong marketing strategies during challenging times can create real short-term success and long-term strength.  

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