Lowell, the Marketing Mecca

Outstanding tour of the Lowell Cemetery this morning with blogging colleague Dick Howe Jr leading about 100 people through the upper section of the cemetery. Of note was a strong narrative thread about industry magnates like Shedd, Hoyt, Ayer,Thompson, and Hood, each of whom was a marketing genius of a certain stripe. The first scented advertisement came from Hoyt’s German Cologne company (it wasn’t German at all, but Haagen Dazs doesn’t mean ice cream—same exotic name trick). Hoyt even used cats before they occupied Facebook. Hood’s patent medicine operation on Thorndike Street (Comfort Furniture/Thorndike Factory Outlet building now) was the largest patent medicine manufacturing plant in the world, with one floor filled with design and printing operations for publicity materials: cookbooks, calendars, trade cards, etc. In one year the firm posted 70 million pieces of mail to advertise products. The Moxie “tonic” came from a drug store counter. All these companies were expert at sales. And going back to the textile hey-day, all that cloth had to be marketed and sold. So, all this advertising success is not a main narrative line in portraying the story of the city. Innovation in manufacturing, yes, but the sales part of it, not so much. Skipping forward to the present, all the talk about the creative economy or creative industries synchs up even better with Lowell’s story when we consider the city as a mecca of creative advertising, with all the conceptual and design talent needed for that work.