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Retrospectives in Marketing (RIM)

A Newsletter of the History of Marketing and Marketing Thought

Published by Michigan State University

The Eli Broad College of Business

November, 2002, Vol. 15, No. 4

CHARM 2003 Update

RIMmers are reminded that the deadline for submissions to the 11th CHARM, hosted by the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University in East Lansing next May 15 through 18, is November 15 (that’s now!).  Conference Program Chair, Terry Witkowski, is very pleased to announce that the keynote address will be given by Professor Stanley C. Hollander.  Other invited, distinguished speakers have agreed to attend and details about this and other program news will appear in the next issue of RIM.   Local arrangements chair, Diana Twede, advises us that individual meal tickets can be purchased for individuals who accompany conference participants at the following price schedule: dinners @ $36 each, lunches @ $22 each – please indicate your needs when registering for the conference.  Details about CHARM submission guidelines and contact persons can, of course, be found elsewhere on this website. http://www.upei.ca/~charm/call2003.html

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Miscellaneous Musings 

If Bill Keep (AHRIM board member) tries to sell you the Empire State Building, check with the New York county registrar of deeds.  Bill has become quite an expert on various sorts of flimflam, hoax, Ponzi, pyramid, bucket, and other schemes and scams.  He has been consulting with the Federal Trade Commission and preparing articles in this field. He recently was quoted with regard to Ponzi schemes by U.S. News and World Report, August 26th, September 2 special issue on hoaxes and frauds.  Ponzi developed a scheme to profit from the purchase and redemption of international reply coupons, vouchers sole post offices throughout the world under the auspices of the Universal Postal Union.  They were designed to encourage international correspondence.  They allowed a person living in country A to write to someone in country B and include such a voucher to pre-pay first class international postage for the reply to their letter.  At the time Ponzi operated, these coupons were redeemable for about six cents worth of postage in the United States (the first class international rate) but could be obtained in Spain under currency devaluation for the equivalent for just about one cent.  Ponzi claimed he would purchase and redeem the coupon but instead used the money coming in from subsequent investors to repay early investors in this plan.  This continued until he exhausted the market and found that he could not repay the later participants.  And if you do decide to buy the Empire State Building from him, please be aware that it has been reported to be in very deteriorated condition.  Do a little bargaining about price. 

Further on the subject of flimflam, hoaxes and scams…  We would also like to announce the publication by Bill Keep (co-authored with Kelly Tian) of Customer Fraud and Business Responses: Let the Marketer Beware (2002), Quorum Books, 2002.

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In early August 2002, several media sources reported on a series of lawsuits that are being initiated against fast food restaurant chains and possibly food manufacturers or processors. The argument is that these firms have contributed to obesity in the American population and thus to various medical ills.  The claims and the approach is very repetitious of the successful actions that were finally initiated against the tobacco interest.  Apparently, claims against the food people will be somewhat more difficult to prosecute, but we can watch history in the making as the matter continues to be carried aggressively further.

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John Steele Gordon’s regular feature “The Business of America,” in American Heritage June-July 2002 is subtitled “Pushing the Envelope: The Birth of a Global Village in the 1860s” is devoted to planting of the Transatlantic, the problems and eventual entrepreneurial success of the telegraph cable at that time and its effect upon internationalization of business.  Other interesting marketing-related articles in the same issue are devoted to the history of the immigrant-Italian Sonoma County California wine industry, the American beer industry, and the latter-days of the burlesque trade.

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In “Third Class Citizen,” Patrick J. O’Rourke, Atlantic Monthly, April, 2002, talks about the value of the Sears Roebuck catalog for the study of social history.  Many universities received a microfilm file of this catalog as a gift from Sears about ten or fifteen years ago. 

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John F. Ross reports in the August issue of the Smithsonian Institute Magazine on the “First City in the New World?”.  Archeologist Ruth Shady Solis of San Marcos University has excavated remains of the city of Caral in Peru.  Radio-carbon dating of artifacts proves that the city is 4,600 years old which would make it the oldest known urban center in the Americas.  Her excavations convinced Shady that the city of Caral served as a major trade center for the region.  The rich trading environment gave rise to an elite group of priests, planners, builders, and designers.  Thus, class distinctions basic to an urban society developed.

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The Literature Keeps Growing

“The Perfect Store: Inside eBay” by Adam Cohen Boston, Little Brown and Company 2002. History, an examination of the growth of eBay, the most singular success story in online retailing.  In its early days, however, eBay was established as some sort of electronic utopian community.  It has since grown well beyond that vision to be become an institutionalized mega-corporation. 

 Some biologists are now beginning to reject the rigid mathematical equations of physics as a paradigm for their own discipline.  In A New Kind of Science, Stephen Wolfram argues for the use of computer algorithms for the study of evolution instead of the logical positivist model that has been paramount.  The book is published by Wolfram Media. Champagne, Illinois. 1,192 pages. $44.95.  One wonders whether similar shifts will occur among marketing scholars.   

The New York Times recently reviewed two remarkably similar books that were prepared by investigative reporters who converged to describe the battle between Philo T. Farnsworth, the true inventor of television and General David Sarnoff, the megalomaniac head of radio corporation of America who claimed credit for the invention and who fought bitterly for the patent rights.  Although the material is already well-covered by earlier books, the Times reviewer found both made interesting reading for the modern reader; The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit and the Birth of Television by Evan I. Schwartz. New York, Harper Collins. $24.95 and The Boy Genius and the Mogul: The Untold Story of Television by Daniel Stashower. $24.95. 288 pages. Broadway Books. 

And Wait There is More by Timothy Samuelson published by Rizzoli. May 2002 is a history of the Popeil brothers and Ronco, the great pitchmen who have produced and sold Veg-o-matics, the Pocket Fisherman, Seal A Meals, and Kitchen Magicians.  Many revere shall we say most famous infomercials are reproduced here along with accounts of the invention process that have produced those miracles of gadgetry. 

The Future of the Past by Alexander Stille, published by R. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York, 2002.  The New York Times’ reviewer strongly and highly commends this collection of essays, mainly drawn from the New Yorker, among other things, deals with the problems of preservation.  Stille points out that it is difficult to decide what is authentic, therefore deserving of preservation and to maintain it without destroying it.  He contrasts Western approaches with Japanese and Chinese practice where a cyclical view of time prevailed as distinguished from chronological or linear narrative.  Many important buildings and other artifacts in the Orient were made of wood, and thus are subject to constant replacement of deteriorating parts, so the original structure remains without any original components.  The culture tended to value a good copy as highly as an original.  Other preservation issues explored included the impact of ecological preservation on resident populations and the difficulties induced in record keeping by the introduction of new communication media.   

The June 2002 issue of Enterprise & Society (International Journal of Business History), Volume 3, number 2, an article and several books reviews which should be of interest to marketing historians.  Ann M. Caros and Frank D. Lewis authored “Marketing in the Land of Hudson Bay: Indian Consumers and the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1670-1770”.  Book reviews include: Hugh Slotten’s Radio and Television Regulation: Broadcast Technology in the United States, 1920-1960; Richard E. Foglesong’s Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando; and Mansel G. Blackford’s Fragile Paradise: The Impact of Tourism on Maui, 1959-2000.

The first, and sadly only, issue of the online Journal of Marketing History has been published and its five articles include two by members of our AHRIM.  Roger Dickinson’s “Chasing a Ghost: Retail Power and the Development of Slotting Allowances in the United States Food Sector: An Historical Perspective” is the lead article.  Arthur Kover and Sarah Maxwell presented an earlier draft of their “The University in Franeker (1585-1811): A Case Study of the Consumption of History” at the 10th CHARM in 2001.  The entire issue of the Journal of Marketing History is available online, free, at http://www.warc.com/jmh/.

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Ranger Roger’s Corner

Ranger Roger reports that the Wall Street Journal for July 13, 2002  pg. R13 contains a full-page article that compares the printing press, the telegraph, railroads and radio to the Internet.

The Ranger is excited about Foundations of Marketing Theory: Toward a General Theory of Marketing by Shelby D. Hunt published by M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, NY, 2002.  Although the volume is not historical, Shelby makes great use of historical information about the volume.

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Biographical and Related History Resources Online 

Jerry Mulcahy, Director of the Business Library at the University of Western Ontario has created a number of online resources that may be of use and interest to marketing historians.  Over the last few years Mulcahy has been posting biographical information about important management thinkers and as part of that resource he has included information about the “Pioneers in Marketing” and “Leaders in Marketing” series that were published during the 1950s and 1960s in the Journal of Marketing.  Check http://www.lib.uwo.ca/business/gurus.html.  In addition, there are resources for researching a long list of company histories, particularly Canadian companies.  Link to http://www.lib.uwo.ca/business/cohistbooks.html. And a third resource includes bibliographic information about histories of the School of Business at the University of Western Ontario at http:www.lib.uwo.ca/business/bibliographies.html.  By the way, Western’s School of Business was one of the first in Canada and among the first to offer marketing courses.

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AHRIM Member News 

An email distributed to members of the Association for Historical Research in Marketing earlier this fall asked for news about moves, promotions, publications, and so on with the plan that we would publish such news here in RIM.  The blue screen of death (those of who have had a hard drive crash know what that means!) wiped out all the email responses and post-middle-aged memory being what it is means the following is all we can report in this issue….

AHRIM board member Bill Keep has been kicked upstairs to the position of Associate VP for Academic Affairs at Quinnipiac University.  However, Bill has maintained his faculty status and continues to do research in marketing history.

AHRIM board member Brian Jones will be joining Bill Keep at Quinnipiac University as a member of the faculty in the Lender School of Business, effective July 1, 2003.  Of course, this also means that the CHARM website will be moving.  Everyone on the CHARM email distribution list will be notified of that change when it is complete.

CHARM Program Chair and AHRIM board member, Terry Witkowski, has had published in the Journal of Advertising, “World War II Poster Campaigns: Preaching Frugality to American Consumers”.

With apologies to those who did submit news but are not listed here, please re-send your information to Brian Jones bjones@upei.ca for the next issue of RIM.  Likewise to all other members of AHRIM, we welcome your news and would like to include it in future issues of the newsletter. 

The next issue of RIM is anticipated in February, 2003. 

Retrospectives in Marketing 
Dept. of Marketing & Supply Chain Management
N370 North Business Complex
Eli Broad Graduate School of Management
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI  48824-1122 

Editor:  Stanley Hollander, Michigan State University

Production Manager:  Cheryl Hanson, Michigan State University

Texas Ranger Correspondent: Roger Dickinson, University of Texas at Arlington

Updated March 6, 2012.
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