Promotions - 1937 Style

by Mark Nye
Issue No 330 - October 2000

The follwing is a circular letter dated September 24, 1937, that was sent to all Cambridge agents. Not only is it interesting to read about Cambridge marketing techniques but we also learn that in September 1937, Apple Blossom was still a part of the Cambridge line.

"We are going to continue our plan of promoting etched lines. This has been very effective where it has been tried out. The plan is very simple and will apply to both the large or small dealer.

"Tell the dealer of the possibility he has of promoting an etched line. Tell him that you can make no better price than $5.40 less 5% on the stemware, which would be $5.13 net. Then suggest to him that instead of retailing the stemware at $10.00 for the two or three days of the week of his sale, that he retail it at 69 cents each piece. He, no doubt, will want you to give him a concession in the price of the stemware in order to do this, but it is utterly impossible to make any closer price on etched stemware for the reason that our prices are exceedingly close and that we have made but slight advances in our etched prices so that he is receiving a very low price at $5.13 net.

"Explain to him that by promoting this etched stemware, he is building a future business for his store, as customers who have already purchased this etched stemware at the regular price will come in during his sale and purchase other items to fill in their sets. Furthermore, he will be able to start a lot of new accounts at this special price. The customer will also know that this is a special price for a special promotion, due to the fact that he is only running this sale for a few days. Customers will further know, from visiting the store both before and after the sale, that there is a big reduction in the stemware for this sale. The customer is greatly impressed as this is quite different from the ordinary method, where a store buys a line of stemware or other cheap merchandise for a special sale and then, after the sale, he has no more of this in stock for replacements or fill-ins for the customer.

"While we cannot do anything on stemware, we nevertheless are willing to lend our aid all we can to this promotion, so have decided to allow the customer to pick out FOUR flatware items, on which we will make him a special Net price. We are listing below nine such items from which your customer may make a selection of Four.

Flatware Promotional ItemPrice per
#3500/64   Celery & Relish, 10 in., 4 toed, 3 compt. 12.00
#1397   13 1/2 in. salad plate, turned up edge 15.00
#1399   11 in. salad bowl 15.00
#3400/91   8 in. relish, 3 hdl, 3 compt. 7.80
#3400/11   3pc Mayonnaise set 11.25
#3400/168/646   3pc Console set 22.50
#3400/35   11 1/2 in. cake plate 9.60
#3500/148   6 in. footed comport (4 3/4 in. tall) 6.60
#3400/4/647   3pc Console set 33.00

"The prices we have placed on these various items are special NET prices for this promotion only.

"These flatware specials are to be advertised in the newspapers, as well as on the counter, under the name "Cambridge" and it is with this idea in mind that we are making these special prices.

"This promotion will apply to any etched patterns, such as Rose Point, Wildflower, Candlelight, Diane, Portia, Apple Blossom, or whatever the etched line may be that the customer wishes to promote.

"We have talked this proposition over at different times with you when you have been at the factory but we never had the opportunity to try it out with any of our customers until quite recently, and in all instances it went over in a big way. We have tried to make this proposition as simple and as short as possible for you, but if there is any further information you want, we will be only too glad to furnish it.

"Please understand that on these Specials only a proportionate quantity of these are to be taken, according to the amount of stemware and regular flatware that is ordered for the etched promotion. Use your best judgment".

Yours truly,
W.C. McCartney

It is too bad a complete listing of all the available etched patterns was not included in the letter. From other letters, we do know that Minerva and Valencia were still in the line, as well as Elaine, and these were apparently also a part of the promotion. A Net price, as used in this letter, was the price the dealer paid Cambridge for one dozen of the item.