What if he is right?
Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 12:45PM

What if he is right?

“The good news is you’re staying, the bad news is everyone you’re working with is gone.” The guy who was told that was Mark Salmon, rising departmental star in marketing and advertising.


Why didn’t he get fired, too? Salmon’s sales figures were so out of scale with the staff track record, they knew he was onto something. Salmon felt compelled to ask, "Why him?" It was the numbers, for sure. But he said he was also told that it was because he knew he didn’t know anything and the rest of the staff thought they knew everything.


Salmon’s time as founder of Appliance Direct was a big part of his presentation to the Advertising Association Federation in Daytona Beach on Thursday, the kickoff of the new season of luncheons held by this networking think-tank of sorts. But this wasn’t just some refrigerator salesman. There was an ad guy at the lectern. He discussed nuts and bolts and some heady philosophical level stuff. 


We are talking about the guy whose commercials fit so perfectly into the cliched genre of Crazy Eddie spots that Appliance Direct commercials spawned the Urban Dictionary entry, “WakkiNuNu.” Salmon's results were no joke though. Low cost. High sales. So low cost he said he once rented basically an abandoned building and had semi-trucks rolling past like train cars, running product. Salmon discussed advertising legend David Ogilvy and the influences of one of Ogilvy’s contemporaries, Marshall McLuhan. A strange and wonderful thinker. We’ll get to that.


Salmon was clear about one thing. Measuring with specificity the economic impact of every cent of marketing and advertising is vital. And he said it is becoming a bit of a lost science in a world rapidly distracted by diversifying medium from radio, print and TV to the internet channels of Twitter, Facebook and a company website and everybody's cell phone.


Salmon recommended reading a marketing book a month, even and perhaps especially if it is, “My Life in Advertising & Scientific Advertising, Two Works by Claude C. Hopkins.” This quote is on every cover; “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book (Scientific Advertising) seven times. It changed the course of my life. - David Ogilvy.” Salmon stressed measuring advertising and marketing expenses at any unit imaginable. The smallest square. And then, something else, to remember, the message is not the medium, and to devise a message that way. And then to switch gears, and understand, the medium is the message. The medium IS the message.


Salmon said Appliance Direct runs something like 15 percent more print advertising now than he did a decade ago. He once ran an infomercial, cycling it through one broadcast region at a time. It was so effective, giant companies sued on marginal-at-best grounds and a very real intent on out spending Appliance Direct on lawyering. Salmon smiled his way through his story about a cross-country track meet of intentionally inconvenient depositions and said, that was when you knew it was a good commercial. 


We’re talking about a spot where his Korean business partner loads red velvet cakes with chocolate icing into four washers. Then, as always, he delivers short sentences in practically English-as-a-Second Language pronunciations in a no-glitz warehouse showroom. WakkiNuNu was a word they used in a commercial to call something stupid while keeping the verbiage G-Rated and innocent, Salmon said. He said the lady in the knee brace in his commercials wore the brace on camera on purpose because, “She was scratch and dented, too!”


Anyways, back to Marshall McLuhan, strange and wonderful thinker. Suppose I told you on Thursday in the Bill France clubhouse room overlooking the brightly lit museum floor inside the Daytona International Speedway, I met a man who discussed this person with our local professionals, a person written about this way, with this strange arrangement of type, by famous American novelist Tom Wolfe.


"suppose he is what he sounds like,

the most important thinker since

newton, darwin, freud, einstein,

and Pavlov what if he is right?

What if he's right What . . .if. . .he . . .is . . . right W-h-a-t i-f h-e i-s r-i-g-h-t


Gentlemen, the General Electric Company makes a considerable portion of its profits from electric light bulbs, but it is not yet discovered that it is not in the light bulb business but in the business of moving information. Quite as much as A. T. & T. Yes. Of course-I-am-willing-to-be-patient. He pulls his chin down into his neck and looks up out of his ion' Scotch-lairdly face. Yes. The electric light is pun information it is a medium without a message as it were Yes. Light is a self- contained communications system in which the medium is the message Just think that over for a moment-I-am-willing-to-be - When IBM discovered that it was not in the business of making office equipment or business machines

- but that it was in the business

of processing


then it began

to navigate





Swell! But where did this guy come from? What is this-these cryptic, Delphian sayings: The electric light is pure information.

Delphian! The medium is the message. We are moving out of the age of the visual into the age of the aural and tactile.”

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