Monday, February 4, 2008

Salmon Won't Turn Pink in the Can

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]
5 February 2008

Column 8

"Speaking of canned salmon, as we were on Friday, reminds me of a story at least 70 years old about the man who invented 'spin' and public relations," writes John Stubbs, of Rosebank. "Somebody in New York had imported vast amounts of canned salmon from Russia which proved to be unsaleable because, when opened, the fish was white rather than pink. His solution was to attach a sticker which read 'Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can'. I think his name was 'Red' Moran - but it was a long time ago."

Sydney Morning Herald
7 February 2008

Column 8

Michael Throssell, of Narrabeen, wishes to throw a lifeline to John Stubbs (Column 8, Tuesday). "John has it partly right: It was not 'Red' Moran but the advertising guru David Ogilvy, who helped the Canadian government sell Pacific salmon, caught and canned in Puget Sound (not Russia), by adding 'Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can' to the label. The story is in his 1960s bestseller, Confessions Of An Advertising Man."

Sydney Morning Herald
9 February 2008

Column 8

"I thank Mr Throssell of Narrabeen for his suggestion that advertising guru David Ogilvy invented 'guaranteed not to turn pink in the can' for white salmon," writes a grateful John Stubbs (Column 8, for some time). However, John contends that it dates from a 1944 comedy recording "before the late Mr Ogilvy began his stellar career."
Bennett Cerf, Try And Stop Me (1944), from Bennett Cerf's Bumper Crop (Garden City, NY: Garden City Books, n.d.), vol. 1, pp. 511-12.

Astute publicity men have extricated million-dollar enterprises from many a jam. One of the funniest of them involved a magnate who "got in on the ground floor" of a new salmon-canning project. The price of his stock was right, and the salmon was delicious. Unfortunately, the color of the salmon was pure white, instead of the customary pink. It tasted just as good as the best, but the public was used to pink salmon, and would have no truck with any other kind. The inventory reached alarming proportions, and bankruptcy loomed. Then the high-powered "public relations counsel" was called in. By printing just one line in big type on every can of salmon in stock, he cleaned out the inventory in exactly four months, and, if rival canneries had not secured an ultimate injunction, would undoubtedly have put most of them out of business. The line that he suggested was simple. It read: "This salmon is guaranteed not to turn pink in the can."