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.