Before Columbia House's Penny Offer, There Was One From Reader's Digest

Share this article:
Regarding Tad Clarke's recent penny editorial, you must be getting a lot older if you can remember the Columbia House penny offer. I will do you one better.


In the 1950s, Reader's Digest decided to attach a copper penny to a subscription letter offer asking that the recipients add two more cents to pay for the 3-cent stamp.


The RD (Reader's Digest, not Robert Dunhill) representative told how the Digest had to contact the U.S. Mint in Knoxville, TN, or elsewhere to obtain the millions of pennies needed for the promotion. The only way to ship them was via a freight car on the railroad. The insurance was about $75,000, if my memory serves me correctly. Everyone thought they were crazy because it was never done before and it wouldn't measurably increase the response rate.


In response to being told they were crazy, they countered with a story about a man who had a flat tire outside an insane asylum. While changing the spare tire, he put the lug nuts into the hubcap. When rolling the spare tire from the trunk he rolled over the hubcap, spilling all the nuts into a sewer drain. Now he was in a heck of a fix, and he had no idea what to do.


A guy from over the asylum's fence suggested that he remove one nut from each of the other tires and use these to affix the new tire. It would serve the purpose until he got to a service station.


The driver did this and upon completion asked the man behind the fence why a man of his intelligence should be confined to the institution. The inmate replied, "I am in here because I'm crazy, not because I'm stupid."


So the Digest proved the value of the penny as history confirms.


Robert Dunhill, President, Dunhill International List Co. Inc., Boca Raton, FL


reaching@dunhills.com


Share this article:
You must be a registered member of Direct Marketing News to post a comment.
close

Next Article in Opinions

Sign up to our newsletters

Follow us on Twitter @dmnews

Latest Jobs:

More in Opinions

App of the Week: Life Organizer

App of the Week: Life Organizer

Life Organizer aims to help users be as productive as possible.

Marketing GloBALLization

Marketing GloBALLization

The Yankees aren't the only team searching for talent overseas.

The Best Birthdays Are Multichannel

The Best Birthdays Are Multichannel

The "best" birthday greetings aren't always the ones with the biggest deals.

Copyright © 2014 Haymarket Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form without prior authorization.
Your use of this website constitutes acceptance of Haymarket Media's Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.