Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Love and Marriage

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Love and Marriage

Article excerpt

Love and marriage

William T. Dillard made his fortune the old-fashioned way: selling good merchandise for a fair price and earning a modest profit.

Using newspaper advertising to create consumer demand, he built Dillard Department Stores Inc. from one store in Nashville, Ark., in 1938 to 214 U.S. stores grossing $3.6 billion a year.

Fifty-three years later Dillard's belief in newspapers remains unshaken - proving that while business and society is changing quickly, some old-fashioned success formulas still work.

That was the message the 76-year-old retailer told an appreciative crowd at the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association's 88th annual convention in Boca Raton, Fla.

"No other medium is as efective at moving merchandize as print," Dillard said.

He called newspapers and retailers "natural allies," economically and socially "indispensable to one another" that go together like ham and eggs, love and marriage.

"Newspaper advertising," he said, "is salesmanship in print."

He equated the golden age of newspapers with the golden age of department stores and said their destinies were inextricably intertwined.

For the publishers assembled in a cloistered luxury resort, it was a welcome reaffirmation amid an otherwise bleak business landscape.

Nationwide, department stores - their ranks thinning from takeovers and changing consumer shopping habits - have been slashing their newspaper advertising and turning to catalogs, direct mail, and television to sell their goods.

Increasingly it is anticipated that when the economy returns to growth, retail advertising, the traditional staple of newspaper revenue, will not return to its former levels. In other words, the golden age may be slowly fading into history.

Dillard acknowledged that there would be fewer retailers and fewer newspapers in the future, as changing competitive conditions make it increasingly difficult just to stay in business.

While he saw no improvement in sales before 1992, he said it will be easier to increase business over the next five years than it has been in the last five years.

In an interview after his remarks, Dillard said his company's 1992 ad spending would be about the same as 1991, with 65% to 70% going to newspapers. …

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