*A Book Review*
The Man Who Sold America
By Jeffrey L. Cuikshank and Arthur W. Schultz
by Michael C. Gray
October 12, 2016
"I am in the saloon downstairs. I can tell you what advertising is. I know you don't know. It will mean much to me to have you know what it is, and it will mean much to you. If you wish to know what advertising is, send the word "yes" down by the bell boy."
This message sent from John E. Kennedy in May 1904 was a key event in the life of Albert Lasker and the development of American advertising. Kennedy explained to Albert Lasker, an executive in the Lord and Thomas advertising agency, that advertising is "salesmanship in print." Then Kennedy helped the agency write more effective ads and taught copywriting at the agency.
After Kennedy left Lord and Thomas, Lasker hired Claude Hopkins, one of the all-time greats and an advertising trail blazer. Hopkins wrote the advertising classics, Scientific Advertising and My Life In Advertising.
Eventually, Albert Lasker, who was one of the greatest salespersons of all time, become the sole owner of Lord and Thomas.
The Man Who Sold America is a biography of one of the great leaders of American business, Albert Lasker.
Lasker helped establish some of the great brands, including Sunkist, Sun-Maid, Kotex, Kleenex, Palmolive and Puffed Rice. Other products that he promoted, including Studebaker cars, Van Camp's pork and beans, and Pepsodent, have since declined or vanished.
Lasker could be amazingly productive, but also suffered from bouts of depression. He apparently suffered from manic depression, like many other outstanding producers.
He was one of the early practitioners of public relations relating to political campaigns, including campaigning against Upton Sinclair, who tried to become the governor of California.
After the first World War, Warren Harding hired Lasker as the chairman of the United States Shipping Board. He was responsible for disposing of much of the U.S. Merchant Marine ships, including converting some ships to cruise ships.
In his later years, Lasker was active in campaigning for women's reproductive rights, including helping found Planned Parenthood and universal health care.
Albert Lasker was a fascinating historical personality who is well worth learning about by reading The Man Who Sold America.
Buy it on Amazon: The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (but True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century.
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