Psychology of Consumer Behaviour |

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ode to Soupy and his funny green pieces of paper

It was January 1, 1965 and probably most parents were still snug in their beds while the kids were fixed in front of living room televisions watching the antics of Soupy Sales. His show was live and featured his usual brand of slap stick. Soupy made silly, entertaining the kids and himself with wacky humour, puns, and of course pie throwing.

It was minutes from the end of the show and there was time to kill, so he looked into the camera and asked his young viewers a favor. They were to find the wallets of their sleeping parents and take out some of those "funny green pieces of paper" with the nice pictures of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln and put them in an envelope and mail them to their pal Soupy at WNEW, New York.

In reality he wasn't doing anything very much different from what Ovaltine and others did when characters like Little Orphan Annie or Captain Video told kids to get their parents to purchase products and send in box tops for pretty useless things. But parents didn't see Soupy's action that way. Their children were being manipulated! They were outraged and the rumour mill spun a story of thousands of dollars being sent into the station.

Soupy's show was suspended for a couple of weeks and then he was back on the air. Only a few real dollars were sent in and a lot of play money. It was nothing like the reported $80,000. It might have appeared to be much to do about nothing, but for a moment some realized the power of television on a young mind. The station did a token slap to Soupy and then carried on as usual.

The episode was live so there's no clip available. Instead enjoy this one with Soupy and puppet Pookie doing Motown!

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