I come from the marketing world, so it would be natural, I suppose, that I would be totally intrigued with the radically different marketing evolving because of new technology - computers, the internet, cell phones, digital TV, I-Pods, Blackberries, and on and on. And I am a business history nut, so it would be natural, I suppose, to ask: has anything like this happened before? Well, actually it has. A hundred years ago, beginning about 1900, as we moved from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy ... a whole new mass production, mass marketing era began. Electricity was changing the cities, but not yet the rural areas. The automobile was changing transportation. The telephone was changing communications. Newspapers were fairly well established, but while the newspapers covered local markets, periodicals (that is, magazines) suddenly were reaching a national audience. Advertising agencies were being started. Catalog marketers (Sears-Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, etc.) were becoming popular, making local businessmen wonder what would happen to the hometown general merchandise store. Radio appeared on the scene, and movies, and after World War II came television. I built an advertising agency on the knowledge gained from the marketing era that started in 1900, and was re-invented after World War II. Some things we learned in that era still apply, but the changes in marketing today are certainly as drastic as those that took place a century ago. I study all this, and I think: man, what I would give to be 39 again and in position to take the risk and ride this new wave of American business. We hear a lot of negative stuff nowadays about the American economy, American business, and American marketing, but I am convinced it will be America - our kids and our grandkids - that will lead the world into this new, shining business city on a hill ... just like it happened a century ago.
This is Gordon Sawyer, from a window on historic Green Street.