History Highlight: Radio Advertising for Collectors

Ed Moss took to the airwaves in 1969 as public relations evolved for ARM companies.

2/13/2019 8:00 AM

NewsCollector Magazine
History Highlight: Radio Advertising for Collectors

Meeting with a manager of a local radio station proved to be a turning point for Ed Moss, a longtime businessman and industry member in Bakersfield, Calif.

Moss, founded Moss Collections with his wife, Carol, and the company later became known as Commercial Trade Bureau of California in Bakersfield.

He recalled his experience advertising in the industry in the April 1974 edition of Collector magazine. Following is an excerpt from the article:

Barely settled in my seat at a business club meeting with a friend who had invited me, I said rather vehemently, “Advertising is for the birds,” Moss wrote.

Before I left the office to accept his hospitality, I had occasion to enter our supply room. There were ample supplies of all the “gimmick” advertising promotions we had tried—pens, key chains, pencils, letter openers, nail files—and they hadn’t done one bit of good.

Now it turned out that the luncheon I was attending was the regular meeting of the local ad club. Hence, it was no surprise that I was challenged rather quickly.

The manager of the local radio station said, quietly, “My friend, you just haven’t tried the right kind of advertising.”

Naturally, he proceeded to tell me how radio could reach thousands for a fraction of what I had spent on “doodads.” And, since he had called my bluff, we made a date to talk it over.

That was in in 1969, and he did have a different approach for us … The campaign simply concentrated on our profession as a profession, throwing out all the old clichés. We made the public aware that there were collection agencies who really knew their business, who were real “pros.” We did this by using commercials blending tasteful jingles with copy that emphasized using able, experienced collectors to collect, as you would use a doctor to cure, or an accountant to handle your taxes. In other words, elevating the collection business to the same level of other professions … what might be called institutional copy, but with our company name tied in.

What were the results?

Did it work? Almost immediately. We got to people who had never used a collection agency before. The hints were subtle: “Your professional collector knows how to find people,” “Get some of your money back,” “Let us try some of those accounts you have given up on.”

We stayed away from dry facts and figures and concentrated on the theme that for collections they should use a professional collector.

Industry Benefited

Although what we did benefited all collectors and our profession in general, we found that whenever one of our representatives called on a new account, they had already heard of us. Our company found the way paved for easy contact and sales closures … to reach the business man who needs our services, we find that “middle of the road” and “country western” stations do the job best, Moss wrote.

Radio Advertising Recommended

My friend at the radio station has long since made me eat my words, and we wholeheartedly recommend the approach outlined above to others in our proud profession.

Read more about the start of public relations and communications in the industry in the March 2019 issue of Collector magazine, coming soon.

Did you know?

In 1973-74, the ACA International Board of Directors established the ACA Legal Defense Program, led by President John S. Araujo, Sr. The Public Affairs Department, while making long-range preparations for the likely introduction of a federal law to regulate collection services, also turned its attention to federally guaranteed student loans. Already $55.2 million worth of the loans were in default, and even the Office of Education in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare admitted it expected that figure to grow.

Pictured above: Ed Moss, Bakersfield, Calif., and Dan Speare of Radio Station KGEE, go over radio scripts.

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