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Domino by Nick Tasler

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13The Pulse, the Anti-You, and the Mindset

In 1955, the owner of a small toy company in Southern California received a phone call from a television studio executive. The executive told the company's owner, Ruth, about a new children's show his network was launching. He explained why Ruth's company would make a great sponsor for the show, and said all he needed from her was a 52-week commitment at a cost of $500,000. Ruth conceded that it could be a great opportunity, but asked for a chance to think about it before officially saying “yes.”

After hanging up the phone, she went to talk it over with her husband and co-owner Elliot. What the television executive didn't know is that $500,000 was equivalent to her and Elliot's entire net worth at the time. On top of that, it was also 1955, just a short few years after the invention of TV started going mainstream. Television advertising was still in its infancy, and it was literally unheard of in the toy industry. No toy company in the world advertised at all outside of the last few months of the calendar year, let alone on television: which is all to say, this was a risky decision. There was no historical data or benchmarking they could tap into. The future was not just uncertain, it was unknowable.

But it also presented a big opportunity. Even back then TV appeared to be changing consumer behavior, and other industries seemed to be getting on board with it. It was like the Internet in 1995—it was changing things, but exactly how it ...

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