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: RescueTime

App of the Week: RescueTime

RescueTime aims to help users become more focused and productive.

Defending Direct: Answers

Defending Direct: Answers

Miranda Bell knows her program will pay off but CEO Dasha Atwala says to nix it. What should she do?

The New Formula for CLTV

The New Formula for CLTV

Editor-in-Chief Ginger Conlon delves into the new formula for CLTV.

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.