Joy Golden died this week at the age of 85. You may not recognize her name, but during the 1980s, you could not turn on a Portland radio station without hearing one of her commercials. Golden wrote and produced not only memorable but extremely effective commercials for many well-know companies. But, her most famous campaign was for Laughing Cow cheese.
Laughing Cow Cheese with its round shape, wax covering and iconic red, net bag has been around since 1921, nine years before Golden was born. Sales of the brand, however, were sluggish until 1983, when Laughing Cow's parent company, FroBel, asked Golden's agency, TBWA, to create an advertising campaign for its Mini Gouda and Mini Bonbel, Mini Babybel varieties. According to the book, "And Now A Few Laughs From Our Sponsor", radio was not the first choice to advertise the processed cheese.
"The decision to use radio was a financial one," says Golden's boss at TBWA, Richard Costello. "At $375,000, even in 1984 dollars, there weren't a lot of options for a sustaining presence in the media. In fact, the original plan was to advertise [Laughing Cow] in magazine ads because of the food's visual appeal." Costello goes on to say, "To get the highest impact per dollar, [TBWA's] media director suggested radio." Here is an example of the commercials. To hear an example of a Laughing Cow commercial, click here.
Radio Advertising Was Responsible For Increase In Sales
According to the New York Times, "Sales of Laughing Cow jumped 60 percent in the New York area in the first year, a figure matched or exceeded in other markets where the ads were broadcast. Ms. Golden went on to create hundreds of snappy radio spots for Evian, Hebrew National and other clients."
The Laughing Cow campaign earned Golden five Clio Awards, advertising's highest honor, between 1984 and 1985. Some of her radio commercials have even been added to the permanent collection at The Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Radio & Television). When asked about the induction of her work into the museum, Golden told the New York Times in 1993, "’I've finally been institutionalized, though not in a rubber room. Being in that museum is better than all the awards I’ve won. The induction ceremony was the most fun I’ve had since my second divorce.”
Good Advice For Maine Small Business Owners
According to The Times, Golden insisted that her radio ads, although funny, were still ads. “There’s a big difference between writing jokes and writing to sell,” she told The Times in 1993. “If a listener laughs through a commercial and then when it’s over can’t remember what the product was, the commercial didn’t work. It works when it’s a good selling vehicle, when there’s been an integration of comedy and product.” Great advice as well, for Maine small business owners who depend on radio advertising to market their products and services.
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