W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

I used to drink a lot of beer.

Not anymore. In fact, I don't drink anything alcoholic at all these days except for an occasional shot of Nyquil when I've got the sniffles and can't sleep. It's a shame in a way. Sitting in a seaside bar sipping brew after brew and watching the boats go by was very pleasurable. But alas, I got to where the fun of drinking simply wasn't worth the hangovers I had to endure.

Poor me.

Oh well, I supposed there's worse things in life than not being able to drink.

And besides, booze made me do dumb things.

Really dumb. Like this: Once upon a time (circa 1970) I was attending a seminar near Baltimore that was being given by a company called DUALABS or DUOLABS -- I can't remember exactly. Anyway, the subject of the seminar was how direct marketers could obtain the demographic info that was then being gathered by the 1970 census and how they could use that info to help them sell their goods or services.

Of all the organizations in attendance at that seminar, the one that sent the most people was...

The Republican Party

Yea verily, they were there to learn how to use that census info to help elect all those slimebags they had managed to get on the ballot. Well, I've got to tell you something: I do not like politicians. None of them. Democrats. Republicans. Independents. You can have them all. It is my belief that it is virtually impossible to go anywhere at all in politics and arrive there with your ethics intact. Politics is compromise...

A Compromise Of Ethics!

Many of you will agree with what I've just written. Almost. You'll agree except for the candidate you support who is, you believe, an exception.

You are wrong. The only difference is that the guy you support hasn't revealed his scumminess just yet.

Trust me on this. Anyway, so now that you know where I'm coming from, perhaps the rest of this story will make more sense. So, there I am at this "confidential" census data seminar and I get invited to a cocktail party one evening. Most of the seminar people including all those mucky mucks from the Republican party are there. I make conversation. I drink. I talk some more. I drink.

And so on. And so it comes to pass that one of the politicians asks me if I've ever done any political work.

"I wouldn't think of it," I reply.

"Why not?" asks the slimebag.

"Because," I say, "I don't think a politician could lose if a I worked for him and I wouldn't want that responsibility."

They began to snicker. They thought I was a joke. "Oh yeah," one of them says condescendingly, "why don't you tell us how you'd do it so a candidate couldn't lose? We'd just love to hear that!"

And so I did. Like I said, I was drinking. I'd had just enough to be garrulous but not enough to stop me from being lucid. I told them how I'd:




enter all data on every zip code in the U.S. into a computer

and how I'd massage that data to enable the computer to kick out groups of zip codes with similar characteristics

and how I'd overlay that info with all the data from the voter registration lists that had been computerized

and how I'd feed into this database all sorts of other info from all sorts of other sources.

The slimes were paying attention now. Most of this was new to them and they were eager to learn it all. And then I told them how...

I'd Create A Full Print
Computer Letter That Would
Be Individualized To Every Person
On That List Based On
What My Research Revealed
To Be His Or Her Particular
Hot Buttons!

In other words, the racist pig in Georgia would get a totally different "pitch" than the ghetto welfare recipient in Newark.

"And I'd 'customize' the TV and radio commercials too," I told them. "Each geographic cluster with similar characteristics could get the exact 'electronic pitch' most likely to fire up the greed glands of the voters in that particular area and make them vote for my guy."

"Who would your guy be?" they asked. "What would he be like?"

"He'd be almost a non-entity," I said. "Somebody who was bland, homogenous and easy to manipulate. Someone who would do what he was told, who would stay on his marks. No blacks. No Jews. No radicals. Somebody who I could insulate from the public by making sure all his remarks were pre-canned!"

Sound like anybody you know?

Shame on me. The Republicans have, for almost 20-years, followed every shred of advice I gave them. And they've made tremendous gains while the Demos lose ground almost every year. Why? It's simple...

Politicians Are Not Elected,
They Are Sold And The
Democrats Are Lousy

As I understand it, the Demos have been using quasi-mainstream agencies like Rapp & Collins while the much shrewder Republicans use real marketing experts like Richard Viguerie.

And, you know what? This is one of the few instances when I'm sorry that 20 minutes of drunken advice from Sir Gary of Halbert is worth more than 18 years of misdirection from mainstream agencies peopled by marketing morons. You know, the Demos don't even know what to promise! They blather on about the environment, international diplomacy and "concepts" when, in fact...

Americans (In Spite Of
What They "Pretend") Never
Vote Anything Except
Their Pocketbooks!

Whatever. Listen: This letter is very deliberately being sent to you the day before the presidential election. Therefore, by the time you read it, George Bush will be the president elected. Dukakis never had a chance. Whomever is handling his campaign has made so many stupid mistakes it makes me wonder if maybe they are secretly working for the Republicans.

Aw nuts, who cares anyway? As my late friend, Freddy Maughiman, used to say when explaining why he didn't vote...

"I Can't Stop Them From
Stealing My Money But I'm
Damned If I'll Voluntarily Let
Them Steal My Time!"

Now, let's boogie. Last month I gave you 50 titles of 50 proposed reports and asked you to pick the 10 winners and the 10 losers. OK, I don't know the answers yet except that #9 is one of the winners and I know that because Robert Allen told me so and then I told him I didn't want to know the other winners (or losers) till I took the test myself. So, now I've taken the test and here are my picks including #9 which I would have picked anyway.

WINNERS:  2, 8, 9, 10, 13,
15, 25, 37, 46, 49
LOSERS: 18, 24, 26, 33, 34,
43, 44, 45, 48, 50

Let's see how I did. May I have the envelope please? Ah, there is it and the real answers are:

WINNERS: 28, 9, 43, 6, 42,
3, 20, 39, 25, 2
LOSERS: 34, 19, 18, 5, 4,
29, 31, 33, 23, 26

Which means I got 3 of the winners and 4 of the losers.

Geez, I'm rather sorry I started all this. This sucks. My guru status is in real jeopardy. All I can hope for now is that some of my readers are as hopeless as me. I am now going to go through all the entries and see who won.

Back in a little.


Hey, here I am again and I've got a big smile on my face! Why? Simply because...

Nobody Did Great!

In fact, every single "marketing" person (like myself) did just awful. In fact, one of the best marketing minds in the U.S. didn't guess a single winner. Zero. Zilch. And whom might that be? Why it's none other than my good friend...

Frank Cawood

Hey, Frank, isn't it wonderful to have a "friend" like me? A "friend" who, when you enter his contest and fail to guess a single winner, he trumpets that sad fact from coast-to-coast? And in many foreign countries? Lordy, won't this do wonders for your image?

Fear not for Frank.

I'm only kidding him because he's big enough to take it. (Plus, the fact I'm so relieved to have someone do worse than me.) I'll put Frank's marketing abilities up against just about anyone's. Because, he knows and I know and every good marketing man already knows that, the main lesson of this issue is...

You Can't Know That
You Don't Know!

A dumb marketing guy gets an assignment; the first move he makes is he goes into splendid isolation and, while mentally tramping around in his creative woods, he tries to "dream up" answers. He guesses.

Just like you and I've been doing on those 50 titles. Except that, you and I haven't been so dumb (or irresponsible) to ask a client to back our guesses with his hard-earned money.

No. You see, what you and I have been doing is playing a harmless game. And, the loser - if there is a loser is ol' Frank C. who got none of the winners right.

Poor Frank.

Hold your tears. You see, even though a guy like Frank may lose at a game like this of little consequence, he manages to win and win big when it comes to the major league game of real business. Because then, he does not guess. He tests. Everything. Copy appeals. Headlines. Price. Publications. Position. Etc.

And That's Why Poor
Old Frank Sells Millions
Of Books To Millions
Of People And
Rakes In Millions
Of Dollars!

Let's say you ask a "creative type" to help you hype a drug store. Do you think he could ever guess what's the most profitable item in your store? Toothpaste? Shampoo? Magazines? Prescriptions? Could you guess?

I couldn't. You see, the most profitable, hottest selling item in drugstores comes in a little green and white box and it's called:

The Fleet Enema!

Now tell me: How could you know that without knowing?

Another example of a guy who does not know to whom he markets: He gets this idea for a machine that you blow into and it tells you your alcohol level. What he figures on is putting this gismo in bars where the patrons will use it to see if they've had too much to drink.

Trust me, that man didn't know drunks. Not at all. Want to know why you don't see that gismo in bars? It's simple...

The Drunks Used
It As A Contest Machine
To See Who Could Get
The Highest Number!

You're in real estate and one of your houses needs to be painted. Could you have guessed that the very best color would be yellow? Yup, it's true; yellow has more "curb appeal" for a house than any other color. Why? Who knows? But the point is, you couldn't have guessed that, now could you?

And, it's real dumb to assume things when, with a little effort, you can really know the answers. By the way, you know what you do when you assume things?

You Make An ASS
Of U And ME!


Gary C. Halbert
AKA "Hangover Halbert"


By the way, only 3 people (Harry Englert, J. L. West and Jack Flanagan) were able to guess even 5 of the 10 winners and the winner of my contest is Harry Englert because he also got 6 of the losers!

P.P.S. I don't like this issue of my newsletter. As I reread it, it seems to me it's not up to my usual standards. Too much preaching. Too much blowing off of steam. Too little hard info.

Nuts. I've been writing this letter for more than 2 years and this is the second time I've felt this way. And, since I don't charge for that which I am not totally proud...

This Issue Is Free!

I've extended Harry Englert's subscription by 13 months for winning the contest and the rest of you I'm extending for 1-month because...

I'm Not A Politician!

P.P.P.S. Do you have anything good to say about me? Would you be willing to say it in front of a TV camera? Soon? Please let me know ASAP! Thanks.

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Copyright 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.