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Agrimarketing : January February 2008
Paul Lessing was either a brilliant visionary, or a little crazy. He opened the doors to the Des Moines Advertising Agency (later named Lessing Advertising Company) on December 4, 1907 dur- ing the early days of Alexander Bell's newfangled telephone invention. At that time, Des Moines was not much more than a sophisticated cow town with a population of about 85,000. His timing? Terrible! Lessing opened his new business shortly after the Bankers' Panic of 1907. A huge run on the banks and trust companies had caused the stock market to plunge nearly 50% from its peak in 1906. The economy was in a recession and on the edge of a major depression. Nevertheless, Lessing persevered and Iowa's first and oldest advertising agency started placing ads for furs from trappers and peddling mail-order seed, tractor-powered washing ma- chines and gasoline-powered engine One of the agency's first clients was the Cownie Tanning Co., the forerunner of Cownie Furs. The agency still lists Cownie on its client roster today, and recently helped Mayor Frank Cownie win his 2003 and 2007 elections. Many of the agency's early clients were mail- order seed companies, including Berry Seed Company in Clarinda, Iowa. Berry eventually broke up into eight different companies, includ- ing the original KSO Radio, which would become one of Des Moines' most popular Rock 'n Roll sta- tions. In fact, KSO's very first broadcast originated from Berry's seed loft in Clarinda, IA on October 7, 1925. Today, the famous 1460 frequency is occupied by Fox Sports station KXNO. When shipping costs became prohibitive and hybrid seed emerged in the 1920s, the mail-order seed industry rapidly declined. Despite this and other setbacks, Lessing continued to build the company by bootstrapping his way along with a wide-ranging list of clients who sold everything from egg incubators and tractor-powered washing machines to lightning rods, imported canaries and manure-resistant farm boots. Lessing was not only a great wordsmith, but also a great storyteller. He helped write the story behind every one of his clients. And he was pretty darned good at it. Lessing also understood that successful market- ers had a story to tell that went well beyond the product or service they were selling. By telling their story in a brief yet engaging way, his clients were able to give their customers more reasons to buy their products over a competitor's. "Tuffy" Flynn Joins Lessing During the early years, Lessing took on several partners. Between 1909 and 1912, the company name changed from Lessing-Chase to Lessing- Williams to Lessing-Frazier. Tired of the revolving door of partners and names, Lessing changed the name back to Lessing Advertising in January of 1913. That's the way it stayed until 1964, 52 years after Lessing's last par tner a man named Roy Flyter Lessing s last partner, a man named Roy ynn, joined the company in 1912. Lessing-Flynn Celebrates a Century of Storytelling / 1907-2007 1 A young visionary named Paul. B. Lessing founded a small mail-order advertising agency - Lessing Advertising Company - on December 4, 1907 A century of storytellers 1907-2007 Before radio Before motion pictures Before farm tractors Before the Titanic Before the Ford Model T. Before General Motors Before Boy Scouts Before passenger flights Before the 16th Amendment And during the 1907 Bankers' Panic...
2008 Marketing Services Guide
Crop Life America