Selling the President, 1920: Albert D. Lasker, Advertising, and the Election of Warren G. Harding

Selling the President, 1920: Albert D. Lasker, Advertising, and the Election of Warren G. Harding

Selling the President, 1920: Albert D. Lasker, Advertising, and the Election of Warren G. Harding

Selling the President, 1920: Albert D. Lasker, Advertising, and the Election of Warren G. Harding

Synopsis

Modern advertising moved into the 20th century borne on many vehicles and distinguished by many techniques, three of the most frequently used being reason why advertising, celebrity endorsements, and pre-emptive claims. Best known for his reason why advertising, Albert Davis Lasker, president of the Lord & Thomas Agency of Chicago, championed all three techniques, helping Lucky Strike Cigarettes, Van Camp's Pork & Beans, and Sunkist Oranges become business successes. His least known but best work was in the political area, where he helped the Republicans gain control of Congress in 1918, and with the election of Warren G. Harding, recapture the White House in 1920.

This book covers events leading to Harding's nomination and election and the key role Lasker played in his election. Bringing along the tricks he had used to sell soap, beer, cigarettes, and canned food, Lasker plunged into political advertising, forever changing the way political candidates are publicized.

Excerpt

Modern advertising moved into the 20th century borne on many vehicles and many techniques. Three of the most often-used advertising strategies were “reason why” advertising, which compared similar products and gave consumers hardheaded, nononsense reasons why they should buy a certain product; testimonials, which featured celebrity endorsements; and preemptive claims, which touted a quality or process common to similar products as being unique to only that brand. Albert Davis Lasker, president of the Lord & Thomas advertising agency, championed all three advertising techniques in the early 20th century, although he was best known for his work in promoting the “reason why” style. He helped such clients as Lucky Strike cigarettes, Sunkist oranges, and Van Camp pork and beans become business success stories, and he became a wealthy man as a result.

It was quite by accident that Lasker found himself thrust into the political arena. His work on behalf of Van Camp Pork and Beans of Indiana brought him to the attention of state Republican leaders, and in particular, Republican Party (also known as the gop, or Grand Old Party) Chairman Will Hays, soon to become chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Hays needed someone to promote the Republican cause in the 1918 congressional elections. Lasker helped the gop attack the Democratic Party for its handling and mismanagement of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson’s plan for a League of Nations, and his appeal to voters to give the Democratic Party control of Congress. Lasker used “reason why” advertising to compare Wilson’s plea with something akin to dictatorship (“one man rule”), which helped to unite Progressive and Old Guard Republicans. the gop victory in November reduced the majority Democrats enjoyed in the House of Representatives and eliminated their control of the Senate altogether. Lasker also used his advertising skills to fight the battle of the League of Nations going on inside the gop, and later on in the 1920 presidential campaign.

The November 1918 congressional victory positioned the gop to recapture the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.