The Test Campaign Of Advertising And Merchandising


IT was decided to manufacture three Parker Duofold Pens with a black tipped, lacquer-red barrel, namely:

Over-size Duofold-$7,
Duofold Jr. (same except for size)-$5,
Lady Duofold (with ring~end for ribbon or chain)-$5.


The advertising was to be devoted to the Over-size Duofold at $7 and to mention theother two Duofold models only incidentally. No space was to be used for black pens or Parker metal pencils. To "put over" the Duofold in advertising vernacular would require concentration.

Bird-shot covers more ground than a rifle ball but does not carry so far or penetrate so deeply. Likewise in advertising divide attention and your hits are like bird-shot, which is all right in its proper place; but when you are gunning for bear. concentrate.

Knowledge of these principles is important as is also the knowledge of when and where to apply them in practice. The psychology of giving advertising dominance to the $7 Duofold rather than to the $5 model is one which establishes a higher value on the pen. It is difficult to sell the higher priced of two articles based on the reputation of the lower priced, but it is easy to sell the lower priced article based on the higher priced reputation.


It was decided to make a test of the advertising and the plan in one large city.


Chicago was chosen because it is not an easy market. New York and Chicago are the battle-grounds of nearly all established lines, and the dumping ground of all sorts of merchandise-bankrupt stocks. excess productions, etc.

Then there are scores of reputable manufacturers in all industries who will neglect other markets to sell in New York and Chicago. To make a success of Duofold in Chicago at an "off" season (March and April) for fountain pens, as it was then regarded, meant that it would succeed almost anywhere.


The initial campaign was to be of about 12 weeks' duration. The Chicago Tribune, a morning publication, was selected for the trial. It was believed that the Chicago market could be sufficiently covered in this way to serve as a test. More papers would have been better.

But in an experiment it is the part of wisdom to restrict the expenditure as much as it is possible to do without defeating the purpose.

The schedule of advertising consisted of 15 insertions as follows:

1- 800 line ad first week,
2- 360line ads each week for 3 weeks,
1- 360 line ad each week for 8 weeks.


On a Saturday, nine days preceding the publication of the first advertisement ~() Parker salesmen, having left their territories, reported in Chicago. The day was spent in holding a "sales school." Here the entire plan was made known to this test-sales crew, and executives of The Parker Pen Co., and their advertising agency instructed the men in the presentation of the plan.


Each salesman was supplied with-

a. Sample Duofold Pens

b. Portfolio containing-

1. Letter from the Chicago Tribune certifying to the receipt of a noncancellable order for the advertising.
2. Proofs of the newspaper advertisements.
3. Reproductions of Posters of which 156 were to be posted throughout the city to show the black-tipped, Chinese lacquer-red color of the Duofold, which could not be shown in the newspapers.
4. Reproductions of Counter Cards and Window Display Cards, etc.
5. Testimonial Letters from dealers in other towns who had handled the Duofold with enormous success.
6 A set of instructions to salesmen.
7. A mao of Chicago with all trading centers numbered.
8. A set of cards each bearing the name and address of a stationery, drug, department or jewelry store and a number corresponding to the trading center on the map. On the back of each card was the credit rating of each dealer.


Salesmen were assigned certain trading centers and given the dealers cards for the center, arranged in a "call route".


The salesmen started out at 8:30 a.m. the following Monday and worked one week. They were then sent back to their regular territories and two men left to make "follow up" calls on dealers who had not bought. (The gross sales of pens in their first week exceeded the gross cost of the 3 months advertising scheduled for Chicago.)


The first advertisement appeared the Monday following the sales drive. This contained the names of the Chicago stores which had stocked Duofolds. The insertion of the store name in this advertisement was one of the inducements which the salesmen had made to dealers.


Window Displays- Through salesmen and a special window trimming agency, large numbers of Duofold window displays were obtained in the stores. It is highly important to display a specialty article. And the Duofold color gave it exceptional display value. The displays established contact with the public as the place of sale, and this, while the advertising campaign was in progress.

In the introductory sales work a number of difficulties were encountered. Dealers were doubtful as to whether advertising would be published as promised. So many other manufacturers had promised advertising to induce orders and failed to advertise, or failed to advertise sufficiently to create demand for goods, that retailers had become wary of new propositions.

Dealers also had the preconceived idea that The Duofold price was too high. They were skeptical of the color and they did not favor the manufacturer's discount, which did not give them as wide a margin profit as from ordinary pens. The cost of manufacturing Duofolds precluded this. So salesman advanced the argument that while Duofold offered a smaller percentage of profit per pen it presented a larger dollar and cents profit than cheaper pens, and would stimulate their sales of pens.

Another stubborn sales resistance, but one to be expected, was the disinclination of non-Parker retailers to stock Parker Pens in addition to the makes which they were handling. They were unacquainted with the Duofold; it was new; it was experimental; no demand had been created; they had no reason to suppose that this product and plan would change the fountain pen business from the slow moving stock it had always been.

Salesman were carefully instructed to visualize for the dealer how and why an active demand would be created. They were trained to sell the Parker ‘proposition’ which embraced profit and turn-over as well as the merits of the product itself.

It is interesting here to note the resultant condition of the Chicago market as revealed by an investigation made by the Chicago Tribune a few months after the Parker campaign had started. The investigation was conducted quite impartially as this newspaper carries the advertising of all major pen companies.

The Tribune selected fifty representative fountain pen dealers in the Chicago market- department stores, stationers, druggists, and jewelers. The facts revealed are very significant, indicating the trend of public opinion on fountain pens:

1. Of dealers reporting an increase in pen business, 80% carried Parkers.

2. Of dealers reporting no increase in business, 73% did not handle Parkers,

3. Of dealers not handling Parkers, 89% reported either no increase or a loss.

4. The Parker is carried exclusively in more stores than any other make.

5. The Parker was reported "best seller" more times than any other.

6. The Parker was reported the "best fountain pen" more times than any other.

7. In investigating the price of pens sold the Tribune says "It is noticeable that those merchants who say that 75%, 50% and 25% of their sales are over $5.00 are mostly among those who carry Parker." This is due to the 5 and $7 Duofold.

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