Thursday, July 3, 2008

'stache #39 - mussel moustache

Volumes have been written about the musselmoustache and its place in American culture, and we will endeavor to abridge the well-told tale here. Indeed, while undeniably handsome, the mussel 'stache is best known to students of American history as the first example of a truly successful, national advertising campaign, one which influenced the marketing of consumer products for generations to come.

Our tale begins in 1922 in Oklahoma City, where an ambitious young ad executive began to realize that the up-and-coming medium of AM radio could be used for more than simply broadcasting home remedies for gonorrhea and offering a roundup of the day’s cricket scores, as was its inventor’s intent.

What if, Stanley Sutcliffe wondered, the indiscriminately promiscuous cricket fan might also be encouraged via the power of the talking box to purchase a mussel or two for wearing?

(Note that Oklahoma City Mussel Co. was Sutcliffe’s largest client at the time.)

As all know, the power of the radio word was found to be a great success, and Sutcliffe’s innovative "Be a Mussel Man" campaign was soon heard from Seattle to Saint Petersburg, where the sporting of a musselstache typically inferred that the wearer both had a radio, and unfortunately, probably gonorrhea, as well.

Today, the musselstache infers nothing but the keen fashion sense of its wearer. Sport this timeless 'stache during months that carry the letter "R."

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