Billy Graham

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

For several weeks during May and June, a series of wildly exciting full-page ads ran in The Philadelphia Inquirer for a seminar titled GET MOTIVATED! to be held in the massive Wachovia Center, home of the Philadelphia Flyers (hockey) and 76ers (basketball).

Among the speakers with star power were Gen. Colin Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Steve Forbes, Zig Ziglar and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. The cost:

Only $4.95 PER PERSON. Or Send Your Entire Office for Only $19! That’s almost free! Admission at the door: $225 per person. Call immediately to take advantage of this limited time offer.

After seeing this ad three or four times, I did the math. The Wachovia Center seats a maximum of 22,000 people. If completely sold out at $4.95, gross revenue would be $108,900.

That amount would be completely eaten up by speakers' fees. Colin Powell: $100,000 plus private jet. Rudy Giuliani: avg. $80,000. Zig Ziglar: $25,000 to $50,000. Donovan McNabb: $20,000 to $30,000. I could not find Steve Forbes’ fee on the Internet, but it has to be at least $50,000.

The “GET MOTIVATED! Workbook” was an additional $4.99, so the final tally for me was $10 and change (tax). A full house at $10 each would generate $220,000. But speakers’ fees, hall rental, staff, audio-visual, etc., would create serious negative cash flow.

I smelled a rat and decided to sign up.

Remember Mister Whipple? He was that old guy in the toilet paper commercial who kept telling people not to squeeze the Charmin. Mister Whipple was one of the most successful “continuing characters” in the history of advertising. Thanks to the “Please, don’t squeeze the Charmin” campaign, the brand became the category leader and made Proctor & Gamble a ton of money. (Factoid: In a 1978 poll, Mister Whipple was named the third best-known American behind former President Nixon and Reverend Billy Graham!) Let’s take a look at what Mister Whipple did for the brand and learn a bit about what he can teach

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