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16 Smarty-Pants Who Changed Marketing [Slide Show]

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120927-1 Benjamin Frankliln

Why do people collect trading cards? Collectors often hope the pictures can inspire them to their field, or they find pleasure in seeing remarkable people and their achievements.

To inspire you in your marketing, we've put together a roster of 16 remarkable smarty-pants who changed business.

Smarty-pants No. 1
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), founding father, printer, author, inventor, all-around genius

Benjamin Franklin's resume looks like it's made-up. Brilliant inventor? Sure! Best-selling author? You betcha! Ambassador to France who got the French to join the colonists' fight for independence? Absolutely!

To that list, add that Franklin was also the owner of General Magazine, which printed one of the first American magazine ads (1742).

Franklin also invented the lightning rod, bifocals, and other items that, even if they didn't exactly reinvent marketing and advertising, certainly enabled our ability to read and enjoy newspapers and magazines.

Takeaway: Listen to your inner genius. If you've a plan or idea that no one has heard before, you might be onto something.

120927-2 John Wanamaker

Smarty-pants No. 2
John Wanamaker
(1838 to 1922), department store founder, marketing pioneer

The next time you pass a department store, thank John Wanamaker. In 1861, he and his brother-in-law opened Oak Hall and gave birth to the concept of the first department store. In 1874, Wanamaker published the first copyrighted store ad.

Wanamaker definitely knew how to work with the seasons (even if he had to make some up). He created seasonal sales, such as February's Opportunity Sales and July Midsummer Sales. And guess who started the January White Sale? Yep: Wanamaker, in 1878.

He also popularized the fixed-price system and created the idea of the "money-back guarantee." (Those seem to have caught on...)

Takeaway: Unite your marketing efforts with the seasons... and, if need be, create some special events and occasions of your own.

120927-3 Frank Munsey

Smarty-pants No. 3
Frank Munsey
(1854 to 1925), American newspaper and magazine publisher and author

Before "Pulp Fiction" the movie, there was pulp fiction, the cheap magazine. Munsey, the father of pulp magazines, used the cheapest pulpwood for his magazines.

Folks could buy these "pulp magazines" for just 10 cents a pop. (Those other, fancy-shmancy magazines in the 1800s cost 15-30 cents.)

Aside from first publishing Edgar Rice Burroughs stories (feel free to let out a Tarzan yell), Munsey was also the first person to attempt a run a magazine by relying on advertising sales revenue rather than retail stand sales.

Takeaway: Know your audience and their needs. Munsey wasn't afraid to go cheap with the paper, knowing folks would like the lower cost.

120927-4 Ivy Lee

Smarty-pants No. 4
Ivy Lee
(1877 to 1934), father of public relations

It's 1906. You're Pennsylvania Railroad magnate George F. Baer, and your railroad company has just experienced a major rail accident. What do you do?

Baer put himself in the hands of Ivy Lee, who would become one of the most well-known pioneers in PR.

Lee convinced Baer to send a press release out before anyone had even heard of the accident. He also asked reporters and photographers to come to the accident to report what had happened. (Lee even had Baer provide a train for all the journalists.) This brilliant PR move earned Ivy Lee the title "father of the modern press release."

Takeaway: Be one step ahead of your audience. Anticipate reactions and have a plan in place for any crisis that may arise.

120927-5 Edward Bernays

Smarty-pants No. 5
Edward Bernays
(1891 to 1995), Austrian-American pioneer in PR and propaganda

Who came up with the idea of getting dentists (even just 9 out of 10) to approve a product? And what about "experts" on TV giving their testimonials?

Credit Edward Bernays for popularizing the use of "third-party authorities" to lend weight to press releases. For example, to help a company sell more bacon, Bernays conducted a survey of physicians and shared their recommendation that people eat heavy breakfasts. He then sent his report to 5,000 physicians and got the quotes he needed to promote bacon as the heavy breakfast that physicians recommend.

How powerful was this campaign? Even today, people consider bacon and eggs as being part of the all-American heavy breakfast.

Takeaway: Use data and details to lend credibility to your claims.

120927-6 Jam Handy

Smarty-pants No. 6
Henry Jamison "Jam" Handy
(1886 to 1983), Olympic breast-stroke winner, water polo player, leader in commercial audio and visual communications

Handy created thousands of industrial and educational films for the biggest companies of his day. During World War II, his company, Jam Handy Productions, produced 7,000 films!

Jam Handy films were really advertising shorts presented as educational or documentary films. Handy's Direct Mass Selling Series ran in both movie and newsreel theaters.

"Down the Gasoline Trail" (1935) explains what happens to a drop of gas from the tank to the engine cylinder... and, in the end, you find out the gas tank belonged to a Chevy.

With his storytelling technique and soft sell, Jam Handy was definitely the pioneer of all modern-day commercials.

Takeaway: Use short movies to entertain and educate your customers rather than to boast about your product or service.

120927-7 Zetta Wells

Smarty-pants No. 7
Zetta (Mrs. Carveth) Wells
, explorer and TV host

Imagine your well-heeled neighbor carrying a box of DVDs of her travels into your living room, putting them in the player, and droning on about each one. TV viewers in 1946 didn't have to imagine it all. They had Zetta (Mrs. Carveth) Wells.

Wells had a show that had this simple premise: She plays her 16 mm home movies of her worldwide travels and talks about them. Yep. That's the "Geographically Speaking" show.

Why are we speaking about it today? Because "Geographically Speaking" was the first show to have a regular sponsor. Bristol-Myers would have kept sponsoring her... had Wells not run out of movies.

Takeaway: Don't be afraid to explore shiny new concepts (in this case, the new idea was TV programming), but make sure to plan well—else you'll run out of content.

120927-8 Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

Smarty-pants No. 8
Bernice Fitz-Gibbon
(1894 to 1982), US advertising executive

Known as the Fabulous Fitz, Bernice Fitz-Gibbon introduced the idea of events into the world of department stores and advertising by creating fashion shows, lectures, and demos.

In 1954 she founded an award-winning agency, which helped women become copywriters.

Her most famous quote is perhaps this: "A good ad should be like a good sermon: It must not only comfort the afflicted, it also must afflict the comfortable."

Takeaway: Remember to help others. As a successful writer, Fitz-Gibbons made sure to help other women become copywriters.

120927-9 David Ogilvy

Smarty-pants No. 9
David Ogilvy
(1911 to 1999), British ad executive, father of modern advertising

Forget Dumbledore and his spells. David Ogilvy, called "the most sought-after wizard in today's advertising industry" by Time Magazine, knew the power of words and images.

He believed that engaging, stylish descriptions of products would best reach consumers, and he believed in knowing one's consumers.

"Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals," he is quoted as having said.

Ogilvy also wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man, one of the most famous books about advertising.

Takeaway: Know your audience well. Think about what they think about. Talk to them as they talk. Reach out to them how they want to be reached out to. And remember the power of words and images.

120927-10 Leo Burnett

Smarty-pants No. 10
Leo Burnett
(1891 to 1971), advertising executive and a creative legend

The Jolly Green Giant, Charlie Tuna, Morris the Cat, Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and the Marlboro Man. What do they have in common?

Leo Burnett and his agency created them.

Though most ads at the time favored text, his approach was to go for the simple memorable icon.

One of Burnett's famous sayings: "Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read."

Takeaway: Use simple, memorable images to capture your audience's imagination and interest.

120927-11 Katharine Graham

Smarty-pants No. 11
Katharine Graham
(1917 to 2001), US newspaper executive, publisher of The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, first woman to head a Fortune 500 company

Personal tragedy brought Katherine Graham to the helm of The Washington Post in 1963, but she guided it through its best years. (Her husband, Philip Graham, publisher of the Post before her, committed suicide.)

She was in charge of the Post during the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and the Watergate scandal, which led to President Richard Nixon's resignation. She was threatened for her role in revealing the Watergate scandal, but she didn't back down.

In 2000, Graham was named one of the International Press Institute's 50 World Press Freedom Heroes.

Takeaway: Be authentic. Graham received numerous threats during the Watergate Scandal, but she kept delivering honest info. Likewise, your audience expects you to be honest in your business.

120927-12 Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Smarty-pants No. 12
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
(1943 to the present), US businesswoman

How huge is the leap from studying communes to studying corporate America? Not very, apparently.

After writing about life in communes, Kanter made the switch to studying the structure and management of corporations. Her book Men and Women of the Corporation (1977) documents "a bureaucratic corporate model that is about to be replaced."

She has also written about what promotes corporate growth and what suppresses it (The Change Master: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the American Corporation, 1984) and changing management strategies for future success (When Giants Learn to Dance, 1989)

Her work has helped businesspeople better understand themselves and the corporations in which they work.

Takeaway: Be curious about the world around you. Kanter did more than just look at business; she analyzed it.

120927-13 Tim Berners-Lee

Smarty-pants No. 13
Tim Berners-Lee
(1955 to the present), CERN physicist

You can thank Berners-Lee for the fact that you're enjoying this slide show online. And for being able to email friends. And for, well… let's just thank him for "inventing" the World Wide Web (well, HTTP).

In 1990, he pitched the idea for an information management system. By Christmas the next year, he implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet.

As far as the popularity of the Web... and online marketing... Well, where would we be without them?

Takeaway: Consider taking something big... and making it practical. Big ideas really count when they're made useful.

120927-14 Jeff Bezos

Smarty-pants No. 14
Jeff Bezos
(1964 to the present), founder of, e-commerce pioneer

In 1995, Bezos launched Amazon, an online bookstore. What was the first book it sold? Something entertaining? A summer read? No: Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought. (Well, it's a fun read for the guys of "The Big Bang Theory" show.)

Today, Amazon sells just about everything, which is in keeping with its goal "to be Earth's most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online."

Takeaway: Give your projects time to succeed. launched in 1995, but success came slowly (well, slowly in the minds of investors who wanted insta-success). Trust in your project, and be patient.

120927-15 YouTube Founders

Smarty-pants No. 15
Chad Hurly (1997- ), Steve Chen (1978- ), and Jawed Karim (1979- )
, founders of YouTube

YouTube might have started out with Jawed Karim uploading "Me at the Zoo," but it revolutionized the way we share and create videos.

YouTube has come a long way from being the favorite place to upload videos of animal shenanigans. It is now home to countless educational videos, webinars, instructional videos, and, OK, clips of animal shenanigans.

In 2012, a total of 72 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Takeaway: Don't overcomplicate your product, or its launch. The first-ever YouTube video is 19 seconds long. Jawed Karim gives one reason for liking elephants. That's it.

120927-16 Steve Jobs

Smarty-pants No. 16
Steve Jobs
(1955 to 2011), US businessman and technology visionary

Known for being the father of Apple Computer (and all its life-altering products, such as the Macintosh, iPod, and iPad), Steve Jobs was also a legendary speaker and pitchman.

He was so persuasive that the term "reality distortion field" was dubbed to explain how he could get anyone to believe almost anything he told them.

Jobs was also known for his believing in setting trends and creating want in consumers rather than merely creating products to serve consumers' needs.

Takeaway: Make up your own rules. Jobs didn't ask people what they wanted; he told them what they wanted. Sometimes, you have to thumb your nose at the rules. Just make sure you're smart enough to pull it off.

120927-17 You

Smarty-pants No. 17

What about you? Are you the next smarty-pants who will change marketing?

Get some inspiration for your marketing career at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston, Oct. 3-5, 2012. Register now!

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Veronica Jarski is the Opinions editor and a senior writer at MarketingProfs. She can be reached at

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski

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