ADVERTISING DEPARTMENT REPORT
In our Advertising Report of January 1911, commenting on our Big Ben plans for the year just expired, we expressed the hope of bringing Big Ben's sales up to 2000 a day by Fall 1911. We had little difficulty in reaching that figure and in even exceeding it during the busiest weeks.
And considering the success the clock is having, the plans we have laid out for this year, there is no doubt whatever in my mind that we will sell our 600.000 Big Ben this year.
I am sorry to say that our Big Ben advertising has influenced but very little, if any, the sales of our other line of goods and it is extremely unfortunate that our other clocks are not closely allied in type to be helped in their sales by our Big Ben campaign.
With our present line we are running, so to speak, an advertising and a sales factory for Big Ben that is only working on a partial capacity. The same investment, the same plans, the same advertising and the same energy could sell not only Big Ben, but a Big Ben line at a smaller cost per clock and therefore at a larger individual profit.
The main requirements of such a line would be that its different members be connected with Big Ben by similarity of name and appearance, that they be graduated in size, mechanism and therefore, in price, so that they appeal to purchasers of different means and different requirements. The same advertising that is selling Big Ben today, at a slight increase would sell at the same time baby Ben, an eight day Big Ben, a Sweep Second Big Ben, a Big Ben Strike and a Lady Ben, provided these clocks are different enough in mechanism to justify a different price schedule.
Such a line is also necessary for our own protection. You are very likely aware that since we placed Big Ben on the market, our advertising has changed trade conditions to such an extent that all the companies have been forced to bring out Big Ben imitations. Not having made any headway with their imitations, they are seeking now to sell on plans more or less similar to Big Ben's, alarm clocks of a more advanced type, such as an Eight Day.
There are already several Eight Day Alarms on the market that are close imitations of Big Ben in design that they are mistaken as Big Ben by consumers and must be represented as Big Bens by dealers whom we refuse to sell or who will not buy from us.
Even should we be able to hold the entire jewelry trade in line, as we have done so far by keeping Big Ben out of hardware or dry goods stores, the latter will, for their own protection, buy the Eight Day Alarms either as a substitute or as something better than Big Ben and encroach on the retail jewelers' sales no matter how loyal the latter may be to us.
There seems to be no doubt that the Eight Day Alarm has come to stay. I consider it the greatest obstacle to the Big Ben's future. It is steadily gaining ground with the hardware and dry goods trade and in this way the other clock companies are being able to work up their output quietly to the point where it might become a formidable weapon in their hands against the Western Clock Company.
I only know of one way to hold them at bay until we can have ours developed and that is with the new baby Ben. If we can manage to bring out our baby Ben this Fall and advertise it in the magazines, we will hold the public's attention for at least as long as we have with Big Ben and any announcements that may be made by other companies of their Eight Day Alarms will be weakened by the simultaneous announcement of the second member of the Big Ben family.
Regardless of any Eight Day problem that confronts us, there is bound to be a tremendous demand for the baby. It is more in the line of a novelty than any of our alarm clocks. It is therefore sure to start like all novelties do ---with a tremendous demand rush at the very beginning and it would be useless for us to advertise it this Fall unless we could have an output of 1000 a day, or a stock equivalent to that number for the Fall months, for, if we could not supply the demand we intend to create, the dealers will be forced to take up some imitation to hold this trade, and there be plenty of them already on the market.
And considering that a year ago last October we had only 3000 Big Ben dealers and today we have close to 15.000, it is safe to say that of those 15.000 12.000 at least will buy on average 6 baby Ben a piece when we announce our advertising campaign, so that before we make any announcement to the public we require from the manufacturing Dept. a stock of at least 7200 baby Ben to meet the initial demand. (Note - in the typewritten report, 5000 is crossed out and 7200 written in.)
On the other hand, the Manufacturing Dept. would have to gradually increase their output so that out stock, once gone we have a supply of 1000 baby Ben a day to take care of repeat orders and increase in demand.
The baby Ben is not a clock that is likely to have much competition. In this size article the new model is practically the most complex that can be made. There is no risk of an Eight Day or a Strike at that price and an output of 1000 a day would be one that could be depended on for years to come. (Handwritten note here "2 to 3 years")
The bringing out of the baby Ben this year will also be of great assistance to our Advertising Department, which as you must be aware, cannot keep up the present standard of advertising without some fresh ammunition from the manufacturing department.
So that, regardless of the Eight Day competition, the launching of baby Ben this Fall would, in our opinion, be advisable from every standpoint.
We expect a slight increase for 1912 in our America sales and an increase of 300 clocks a day in the La Reine, an old alarm which we are going to take up the same plan as we did the Ironclad, change the name to Lookout and advertise steadily to the trade beginning with February 1st.
Our Watch sales are only limited by our output. Our Sales force can dispose, without any advertising, of any quantity the manufacturing Dept. will turn over up to 4000 a day, under the present trade conditions. (There is a handwritten note here saying "we are making 2000 at present")
Reference: “Westclox Department Reports, 1904 - 1922”, Collection 116, Box 7, Files 3 - 14 , held by the Regional History Center at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois.
Many thanks to Rich Weinssen for transcribing this report into a computer file.