I would love to have met the advertising strategist who conceived the plan to give a customer’s child a free toy or trinket only if the parents purchased a new vacuum cleaner. Here is how the trick works. A young family walks into the vac shop looking to buy a new cleaner. The salesperson greets them and notices the small children hanging from their sides. A toy is given to the kids to occupy them long enough to make the sales pitch. After a time, the customers will either buy a machine or depart to comparison shop. Before they leave, the toy is taken from the kids. The small tikes, of course, ask, “May I have that toy?” The salesperson regrettably tells the family that they are not for sale. “They are only given to the kids as a small token of appreciation for the sale.” If the people leave the store empty handed, at that point, a merciless barrage of whining and screaming usually ensues until the sale is made and the toy is finally awarded to the store’s newest salesmen….the kids. It must be said that this strategy works equally well for the door to door vacuum salesman.

Of course, this was not the only purpose for having small advertising objects. Many advertising items were handed out to get the company name into the field, to encourage a customer to return to the shop, or as a genuine token of thanks. The variety of items that can still be found is staggering. Many handouts were utilitarian as well. There were pins, pens, sewing kits, banks, tape measures and ashtrays, just to name a few. After all. adults need their toys too. Some companies continue the tradition today.

Enjoy the sampling of silent salesman who have helped to increase the sale of vacuum cleaners throughout the years. Always remember, when you go shopping for that high ticket item in the future, DON’T TAKE THE KIDS.