Business: Old Golden Harvest

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The form of puzzle known as the rebus is supposed to have originated in Picardy. a French province famed for its roses, in the early Renaissance. French schoolboys still have fun with such ideographic riddles as G a, which may be read J'ai grand appetit (G grand, appétit). More complex rebuses are pictures whose elements, correctly named and put together, make up words or sentences. Printing six riddles of this type every week in 308 newspapers. P. Lorillard Co., makers of Old Gold cigarets, began last February the longest and best-sustained wit-baiting promotion on record by a U. S. advertiser. A puzzle contest axiom is that half the contestants will drop out before the finish. When the Old Gold contest closed last week, 85% of the starters were still hanging on for a chance at the unprecedented $100,000 first prize. On file in Manhattan were at least 2,000,000 individual folders crammed with complete sets of puzzle answers, from which winners probably cannot be picked before July 1.

Responsible for this mass perturbation was the Manhattan advertising agency of Lennen & Mitchell, which has had the Old Gold account since 1926 and whose starry stimulus has always been the hope of devising an Old Gold promotion as effective as that of Camels, Lucky Strikes or Chesterfields on less than half the money spent to advertise each of those brands. Lennen & Mitchell's original slogan, "Not a cough in a carload," put Old Golds fourth among big-selling cigarets, but neither that nor "Double your money back" offers in 1935 and 1936 promised to boost Old Gold sales anywhere near the Big Three. Lennen & Mitchell, who are also agents for the Scripps-Howard newspapers, had kept an attentive eye on the rebus campaigns run as circulation stunts by various U. S. newspapers. Last summer Adman Philip Wieting Lennen persuaded Lorillard that if people would buy newspapers to enter such contests they would also buy Old Golds.

Hired by Lennen & Mitchell to do the job for Lorillard was a firm called Publishers Service Co., Inc., previously employed by Publisher Julius David Stern to cook up rebus contests for his Philadelphia Record and New York Post. In the Post building on Manhattan's West Street, Publishers Service has barnlike offices furnished principally with a good set of dictionaries. Genius of the place is lanky, sandy-haired Frederick Gregory Hartswick, a Yale high-jumper of the class of 1914 who made puzzles a profession, ran the puzzle page on the old New York World and has been getting out crossword puzzle books for Simon & Schuster since 1924. Mr. Hartswick, who joined Publishers Service a year ago, lives in Fanwood, N. J. with his wife and two boys, never misses a track meet if he can help it and likes to rest his brain with carpentry in the Hartswick basement. He did not think up all the Old Gold rebuses himself, but he passed on all 90 of them as submitted by a staff of word-wanglers before they were converted into oafish little wash drawings for the series. The thing was managed so that only Puzzleman Hartswick knew all the right answers.

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