All Posts By

Alison Yobage

Wheaties: The Gold Medal Standard

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The bright orange box. The proud athlete on the front. One brand has been the dominant symbol of American triumph in sports: Wheaties.

Wheaties, then called Washburn’s Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes, hit store shelves in 1921. From a marketing and advertising view, it was a pioneer from the start. Many claim Wheaties even had the first ever jingle in a commercial, in a spot from 1926. Read More

Cindy Crawford Poised to Make a Super Bowl Comeback

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For only the second time in its 52-year history, the 2018 Super Bowl will be played in Minneapolis. The last and only other time Minnesota hosted, it was Super Bowl XXVI, on January 26, 1992: The Redskins played the Bills on CBS. John Madden and Pat Summerall called the game, which the Redskins won 37-24. The game’s rating was a 40.3. A :30 spot cost just $850,000.

One of the breakout stars of the 1992 game was Cindy Crawford, a 26-year old model. In an ad for Pepsi, Crawford pulled into a gas station in a Lamborghini to buy a can of soda. A pair of young boys watched the model step out of her car and gulp down a can of the soda and said, awestruck, “Is that a great new Pepsi can or what?” Read More

Rudolph, the Most-Enduring Reindeer

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For those of you still humming Christmas jingles and eagerly waiting until next year when you can belt them out again, here’s a little history about your favorite good-hearted reindeer. Did you know that the most famous reindeer of all is a 1939 creation of an advertising copywriter?

The idea for Rudolph took flight one foggy winter’s night in 1939, after the New Year. Retailer Montgomery Ward had a tradition of giving away children’s books as a holiday promotion, but for the 1939 Christmas season, the company decided to create one in-house to save money. Robert May, a 33 year old copywriter for the retailer’s catalogs, was known for sharing rhymes at the holiday party. This year, he was tasked by management to create a story about a lovable animal. Read More

Sesame Street: Sweeping the Clouds Away for 48 Years

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On November 10, 1969, television viewers were introduced to “Sesame Street”. In the almost 50 years since, the series has become one of television’s most-watched and most iconic programs, and not just for kids. With 90 million graduates in the US alone, adults and parents love it too. And it has won more Emmys (159) than any other show in history.

The series began in 1969 as a revolutionary idea: use TV to help kids learn. At the time, an estimated 97% of American homes had a television set, and preschoolers were watching on average 27 hours of TV each week. Television producer Joan Ganz Cooney set out to create a show for kids that would “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them” – such as prepare them for school. Read More

The Great Halloween TV Tradition

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After a long, hot summer, we look forward to sweater weather, splurging on their favorite candy, costumes, and decorating for the Halloween season. And of course, bingeing on some good Halloween-themed TV.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), American consumer spending for this Halloween is forecast to reach a record $9.1B, up from $8.4 billion in 2016. Seven out of ten plan to celebrate Halloween this year by dressing up, handing out candy, and decorating our homes and offices.

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Hurricane Season: Wreaking Havoc on Land, Sea, and TV

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The unprecedented fury of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused power outages, flooding, and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. While this season’s aggressive hurricane season has broken weather-related records left and right, it’s also impacted something a little closer to our industry: television.

When Irma struck Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, it left 6 million people without power in Florida and drove others towards watching the weather news. The Weather Channel kicked into “severe mode,” broadcasting live around the clock for several days around each of the back-too-back storms. It was the only network to do so, which was reflected in its ratings. Read More

The Most Sensational, Inspirational, Muppetational Show Ever

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“The Muppet Show.” The original one, from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Only the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, muppetational show ever. I did not come up with that myself. Those are lyrics from the opening credits of the show.

The original “Muppet Show” premiered in September 1976 in the UK. Creator Jim Henson took his idea to the US TV networks: ABC, CBS, and NBC. US network executives unanimously praised his work, but were not convinced a puppet show could pull ratings in prime time. Henson created two pilots, which aired on ABC. Neither brought in good ratings, so ABC passed on the series. Read More

The 100th Anniversary of Fluff

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Archibald Query. You may not know his name, but if you have spent much time in New England, there is a very good chance you know a product he sold for a few short years leading up to World War I.

One hundred years ago, beginning in 1917, he cooked batches of melted marshmallows at home and sold them door-to-door in his neighborhood in Somerville, MA. Sadly, a World War I sugar shortage ended his enterprise. In 1920, Query sold his recipe to Massachusetts-based candymakers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower, for $500. Read More

I Want My MTV!

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Just after midnight on August 1, 1981, the brand new Music Television Network came on the air, with a bang. Its opening moments consisted of footage of a rocket launching and an announcer declaring “Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll!” A guitar riff played with an image of an American astronaut planting an MTV flag on the moon.

The video that followed was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the English band the Buggles. About 80 videos comprised the first week’s schedule, which was almost the totality of music videos in existence at the time. It turns out that video did just the opposite of killing the radio star. Read More

Remember When Amazon Just Sold Books?

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When Amazon officially opened for business on July 16, 1995, the only thing they offered were books. Within just one month, Amazon had shipped books to all 50 US states and to 45 countries. Bezos’ aim and motto was to “get big fast,” and as we know the company is now an ecommerce mega-mall, selling so much more than books.

As we rely increasingly on the giant company for our personal shopping as well as business needs, it’s hard to remember a time just about twenty years ago when Amazon sold only one product: books. Because today, “There’s virtually nothing left that they haven’t touched,” said Kelly O’Keefe, professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter. Read More