Powel Crosley Super Salesman
BY DAVE CROCKER
Powel Crosley, Jr., and his radios have been the subject of several articles by Dave Crocker. In this article, Dave provides information about Crosley's marketing skills and his use of advertising. (Editor)
Although Powel Crosley, Jr., may not have known just what was going on inside his radios, he sure knew how to sell them! Powel had no extensive engineering background, but his career before the radio boom of 1920 was in sales. The multitude of products sold with the Crosley name were not invented by Powel; however, either he bought out their patents or he hired the inventor/engineer to develop and later market them. Powel had the ability to know what would be profitable and what to pass over.
Powel was good to his distributors and dealers. He was a true believer in the slogan: "Advertise, Advertise, Advertise." He took every opportunity to expose the Crosley name to the public, including delivering radios to his dealers by airplane for photo-ops, sponsoring sporting events with teams having the Crosley name on their uniforms, bathing beauty contests crowning "Miss Crosley," and offering his dealers a wide variety of display items for their stores. Of course, the store owners loved it, as it made them feel connected to the manufacturer.
Each month the dealers' newsletter, called The Crosley Broadcaster, would show static and electrical eye-catchers they could purchase at very reasonable prices. These displays would certainly dress up the stores, and they included selling aids for (besides radios), washing machines, ironers, refrigerators, household appliances, etc., etc. Anything sold by Crosley.
Figure 1. Front view of the electric display sign which could be purchased from the sign's manufacturer in Springfield, Ohio.
One particularly colorful item was the "87 Stations In One Night" electric display sign, shown in Figures 1 and 2 (see print version). It appeared as a selection in the September 1931 issue of The Crosley Broadcaster and was available to the dealers for just $3.00!
This display consisted of a reverse painted glass in yellow, red, and silver on a black background, in a 15" square wooden frame. This is attached to a metal (tin) housing, inside of which is the light bulb for illumination. A rear view of the sign showing the exposed light bulb is provided in Figure 3 (see print version). On both of the top, front corners are metal rings to hang this sign in a store window, as Figure 4 (see print version) shows. However, it could also stand alone on its own on a shelf.
Figure 5. Items offered to Crosley dealers as selling aids. This page appeared in "The Crosley Broadcaster" of September, 1931.
It is a truly colorful dealer display, which is simply beautiful when lit. The "87" and "In One Night" are in yellow; the "Stations" is in green; "Crosley Radio" is in red; and "You're THERE With a Crosley" is in clear with everything outlined in silver. The remainder of the glass is in black.
This display piece, as well as the similar "Moto-Iron" display unit (shown on the same Crosley Broadcaster page, Figure 5), was manufactured by the McSavaney Corporation of Springfield, Ohio. The rest of the display items were F.O.B. Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Crosley Broadcaster, September, 1931.
(Dave Crocker, 35 Santuit Rd., #4B, Mashpee, MA 02649)
Dave Crocker, a graphic artist and a semi-retired member of the A.R.C. staff, has been collecting radios for over 30 years. Many of those years have been spent researching and collecting radios made by the Crosley Radio Company.