Cal Worthington – Father of the Infomercial
When it comes to advertising innovation you’d be hard pressed to find anybody that can beat Cal Worthington for ideas that are not only different, but also stick in the minds of potential customers. I’ll never forget the years I lived in Los Angeles and all those Cal Worthington TV ads. He was so good at creating these ideas that he made millions in the process. What was it that he did differently and what can you learn from him to help your own business?
How his advertisements were different
Worthington advertised his car lots on both the radio and television for decades, but he knew in order to stand out from the crowd and be remembered, he’d better do something different; so he focused on using animals and interesting taglines to make an impact. The main thing, though, was the “my dog Spot” ads with the twist being that it was never an actual dog. Instead, Cal used a variety of animals including a bear, tiger, mountain lion, elephant, seal, and even a whale. His particular brand of crazyness really took off and made an impression with the viewers.
He also started a series of commercials where he would do some kind of stunt just to get a sale, like standing on a bi-plane’s wings while in flight. Of course, this then led to more interest in what he was selling as people would generally pay attention to idea of somebody willing to do anything to make money. You may not have to go that far with your own advertising ideas, but you should perhaps take the concept of offering something different in order to stand out from the crowd.
The idea of the infomercial
Another area where Worthington is seen as being a groundbreaker is with the infomercial, as he was the first one that really caught on to the idea of buying cheap ad time in huge blocks to get his point across. This led him to buy blocks that ranged in length from 30 minutes to three hours which were filled with his car ads, country music, and his huge personality; the combination proved to be a winner. These infomercials certainly were never boring as Cal took them seriously from a business standpoint and wanted to get his message across. Boring the viewer would only serve to turn them against you, so it is fair to say that he understood more than just how to sell cars, he understood the power of film and visual effects and how it translates into more sales.
After looking at what he did it is always good to see the results he achieved as this will allow you to see how advertising innovation really can take you a long way in business and what you will find is that in 1988 his business grossed approximately $316.8 million. This figure actually means that at that moment in time he was the owner of the biggest car dealership chain currently in operation. Over the decades he has grossed billions of dollars in sales. And yes, a lot of that success has to be attributed to his commercials and the way in which they caught the attention of the public. Clearly you do not have to generate the same level of volume or turnover, but if following his approach leads to any percentage increase in your bottom line, it’s worth it.
What can you learn from him?
There are a number of things you can learn from the way in which Cal Worthington went about advertising his business even if you do not go to the same lengths as he did with his ideas. The first thing is that you should never be scared to try something even if it seems a bit crazy at the time, because as long as you still get your point across and do so in a way that is understood by your potential clients, then go for it! Capturing that market share has become even harder today thanks to the internet, so get those ideas together, do something off the wall, and always have faith in what you are doing.
Cal Worthington is an example of a true innovator and pioneer. In the world of advertising and marketing the only limits are with your imagination. Even working with a small budget you can use your imagination and stretch your dollar so as to reap the rewards when you hit the right chord. Take a tip from Cal and do what he did. Look at your product, look at what other people are doing to sell the same product, and then put your own slant and personality into it and you too may see real change in the fortunes of your business.