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A Word from Our SponsorAdmen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio$
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Cynthia B. Meyers

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823253708

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823253708.001.0001

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The Ballet and Ballyhoo of Radio Showmanship

The Ballet and Ballyhoo of Radio Showmanship

Young & Rubicam’s Soft Sell

(p.130) 6 The Ballet and Ballyhoo of Radio Showmanship
A Word from Our Sponsor

Cynthia B. Meyers

Fordham University Press

This chapter analyzes the advertising industry debates over the use of entertainment and “showmanship” as a selling tool on radio. Early in the radio era, admen debated about the usefulness and necessity of showmanship, fearing that entertainment could undermine advertising's status as a respectable business. Humor, in particular, threatened to overthrow the rational, reason-why, product-centered strategies of the hard sell proponents. However, the soft sell proponents considered entertainment as a powerful attention-getting device. The most prominent of the soft sell agencies was Young & Rubicam (Y&R), which became a major force in radio. They promoted integrated commercials, which wove the sponsor's name or product mentions into the program text. The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny, beginning in 1934, included Y&R's best-known use of integrated commercials.

Keywords:   entertainment, showmanship, radio selling tools, radio, humor, hard sell advertising, soft sell advertising, Young & Rubicam, integrated commercials, The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny

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