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Golden Delicious Apple

Golden Delicious Apple Tree

Golden Delicious Apple Tree, Clay County.
From Printers' Ink Monthly


Printers’ Ink Monthly
May 1921

Page Allotment Can Make or Break Catalogue

Advertising of Stark’s Golden Delicious apple trees shows how this mathematical principle works

By R. K. Sewell

In laying out a catalogue—which is the same as outlining a method of attack in an advertising campaign—the first essential is to know the amount of merchandise on hand, to be able to make a close comparative analysis of the business done during the previous catalogue period and to determine definitely the object to be gained.

. . .

Before laying out its catalogue for any season, the Stark Brothers company goes over the records of the estimated visible supply of trees, vines and shrubbery growing in its seven branch nurseries.

With the possible visible supply known, plus the number of catalogues that will have to be printed in order to overcome buying resistance sufficiently to cause the booking of an increased volume of business, the catalogue then is sectionalized.

If there is a big propagation in sight for Stark’s “Delicious” apple trees, for example, and if the sales curve for the last year shows a dipping tendency, the number of catalogue pages given to that item is proportioned accordingly, after taking into consideration what information can be obtained about competitors’ possible stocks.

If the analysis shows the coming market tendency to be downward, the advertising plans must be figures against the resistance of a certain percentage of lost momentum. That is, more of the catalogue’s sales energy must be devoted to making its readers desire to buy, and really buy, Stark’s “Delicious” trees.

While the thing is thus figured out mathematically, an effort is made at the same time to analyze the situation from the standpoint of the previous year’s market for applies in general. This analysis is really a survey. But Stark is fortunate in that it has more than 250,000 customers upon whom it can call for market reports on local conditions. Thus it is able to estimate with a fair degree of accuracy what kind of market it must face in selling trees during the next season and also the conditions likely to be encountered by orchardists who have planted Stark trees.

Not only does the analysis give a basis for the allotment of pages, but supplies the most valuable kind of information to enable Stark to be of positive assistance to its customers in its recommendations for planting and marketing.

In this matter of real service to the customer a catalogue man must have vision whether he is selling trees or general merchandise. Buying advice given in a catalogue must extend far beyond the present. If a retailer is persuaded to add a certain department to his business, he is doing something that will have the most pronounced effect one way or another next year or the year after.

The Stark company recognizes the prime necessity of being able to give advice to fruit growers that will prove trustworthy ten years from now. There is not a catalogue, large or small, in the country, that could not be bettered in a broad way by giving closer adherence to this principle. Speaking of being able to look ahead, C. M. Stark predicted some twenty years ago that within a generation Stark’s “Delicious” apples would be sold for more money than any apple had ever brought before. His prophecy has been fulfilled. A fancy grocery store on Randolph Street, Chicago, last year priced those apples at fifty cents each, and the fruit stands on Broad Street, Philadelphia, sold them for twenty-five cents each.

A forceful example of scientifically accurate catalogue allotment to meet a certain definite market condition is afforded by the way the Stark company merchandised its “Golden Delicious” apple trees during the present season of 1920-21. “Golden Delicious” is Stark’s new apple tree. It first appeared on the market in 1917. Close observers of advertising have noted the exceptionally large space given it in farm journals during the last few months. This was only a part of the extraordinarily heavy advertising pressure that has been put upon Stark’s “Golden Delicious” apple trees all along the line.

The advertising story of this already famous apple, culminating in the correctly laid, magnificently supported direct advertising campaign of the present season, dates back to 1913.

In April of that year Paul C. Stark was sent three wonderful yellow apples by A. H. Mullins, a West Virginia mountaineer-orchardist. He explained that they were of a new, unknown variety.

Mr. Stark immediately started for West Virginia and, after a twenty-mile horseback ride through the mountains, found the tree in a scrubby, unkempt orchard.

How the tree came to be there is one of nature’s secrets. Anyway, Mr. Stark paid Mr. Mullins $5,000 for the tree and the ground on which it stands, and named it Stark’s “Golden Delicious.” It now is the parent of many thousands of “Golden Delicious” trees all over the country.

To protect the tree from vandalism and to provide a dramatic touch for the advertising that was bound to come later, the company erected a burglar-proof wire cage around the tree and hired the owner of the orchard as watchman. If any attempt is made to get at the tree an electric alarm rings in the watchman’s cottage. The tree is a cage, on account of its human-interest appeal, has been shown on moving-picture screens in thousands of theatres and has been pictures widely.

The company attempted to insure the tree for $50,000 from both a standpoint of protection and advertising. The proposition was put up to most of the big insurance agencies in Chicago and St. Louis, but was turned down every time.

“It is amusing to note their comebacks,” J. G. McCall, advertising manager of Stark Brothers, said. “The idea seemed absolutely to stupefy them. They invariably wanted to know what the joker was. We simply could not get it through heads that the tree was well worth insuring and was one of our largest potential assets.”

As soon as young “Golden Delicious” trees could be propagated from graftings taken from the original tree, they were tried out in various parts of the country in big commercial orchards. The showing was so satisfactory that it was decided to catalogue the “Golden Delicious” trees late in 1917.

Before the spring selling season in 1918 was a month old, reservation orders had been placed for every “Golden Delicious” tree that Stark could possibly deliver. Many hundreds of orders were turned down.

Propagation was heavier in 1919. But the catalogue and several of large circulars swept the nurseries clean. By this time the propagation had grown to a point that put an enormous lot of “Golden Delicious” trees on the market for 1920-21.

Last summer the executives of the company took note of this while making their season’s advertising plans. It was seen that the number of available trees was sensationally larger than had been expected. Also it was noted that hard times were coming on. It was decided that the company in all probability would be up against a hard selling season.

“Before we bought an inch of space or made any definite plans for the catalogue,” said Mr. McCall, “we made up our minds we would have to fight for business. After visualizing all the difficulties that, left to themselves, would bar our way to big sales in the fall of 1920 and the spring of 1921, we determined that our advertising appropriation for this year should be the largest in our history and that the campaign should be the strongest we ever put on.

“The catalogue was made larger than ever, so as to devote an unusual number of pages to “Golden Delicious” trees. We also got out some unusual folders. These were put in shape months before they were needed, regardless of the high cost of paper and printing.

“Our appropriation for display space, which we used liberally to back up the catalogue and circulars, was fifty per cent larger than the year before. We bought two, three and four-color page inserts, back covers and double spreads in various publications reaching farmers and orchardists. We bought space for smaller advertisements in practically every farm paper in states where we thought we had a possible market.

“Necessarily all this cost us a great deal, but the interesting part if that an analysis we made just the other day showed that the inquiries brought in by our 1920-21 campaign have cost less per inquiry than at any time within the last five years. The reason, of course, is that the bigger campaign brought in a record-breaking list of names.

“Despite the fact that it was not possible for us to reduce the price per tree this year, our business up to date shows a twenty per cent gain over last year. We believe now that our orders for Stark’s “Golden Delicious” trees will be fifty per cent greater than last year and that before we are through the selling season we shall be turning down orders because of the lack of stock.

There are two outstanding features to the inspiring story of discovery, propagation, advertising and complete success of Stark’s “Golden Delicious” apple tree.

It was put over in record time, achieving widespread popularity even quicker than did Stark’s “Delicious,” which is a red apple.

The other point is that even the prestige it had gained from being widely advertised and generally accepted for two years was not sufficient for it to overcome the handicap conditions imposed upon it as it entered the 1920-21 season. The advertising had to be of greater volume and more efficient than ever before.

While analyzing the achievement of this apple tree in three advertising seasons, one is impressed by the almost ridiculous ease with which a huge potential success may be crippled or held back by failure to put behind it a sufficient amount of advertising at the right time. The fact that it could not fill its orders for two years was not counted by the Stark company at all as it faced the realities last fall.

It knew how many trees it had to sell and how much advertising in the catalogue, backed up by circulars and paid space, it would take to sell them.

Having this information, there was only one thing for the company to do.

There had been a lot said about advertising being a proposition of “cast thy bread upon the waters and it shall return after many days.”

There is some advertising of that type—good advertising, too. It is indirect in its returns and therefore difficult to apportion.

Not so with catalogue advertising. Its returns can be measured page by page. The catalogue man knows the pulling power of a process insert as compared with a specified number of black0and-white pages. He knows that certain things done in a certain way will bring definite results.


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