What 25 Years with the Prize Patrol Has Meant to Me
If you’ve followed our blogs for a while you’ve read about several anniversaries we’ve observed at Publishers Clearing House – like 2013’s 60th anniversary of our founding in 1953, how in 1967 we added the PCH Sweepstakes to our mailings, and how that now-legendary enterprise has made thousands of people richer by almost a quarter of a billion dollars! You’ve seen our business expand from direct mail magazine subscription offers to a multitude of products and new ways to win online. Now this fall we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of the PCH Prize Patrol. Yep, it was in 1988 that we started knocking on winners’ doors and presenting roses, balloons and Big Checks “as seen on TV.”
Todd Sloane, my assistant 25 years ago, thought that instead of notifying winners of their good fortune by telephone, surprise visits to their homes would be more exciting. And was he right! Over the years we’ve videotaped close to a thousand “winning moments” which have become the core of our classic TV ad campaigns.
It’s been my privilege to drive the famous Prize Patrol van to towns all across the USA and make hundreds of people happy – and grateful that they had the good sense to enter the PCH Sweepstakes. And Todd has been along for the ride most of the time while climbing to a top position within the company.
Folks often ask me what it’s like to have such an unusual job. I tell them “It’s a blessing – pure and simple: a blessing for them (the winners) and a blessing for me.”
Do I have some favorite memories? Sure. From an “advertising professional” standpoint I love it when winners scream or fall down or burst into tears – because that makes for terrific TV viewing. But from a “personal/human” standpoint I am touched when the Big Check arrives “just in the nick of time” – when bankruptcy is imminent, or uninsured surgery is needed, or a job has been lost, or foreclosure is looming. A winner’s reaction at times like this can be a stunned silence, which may not translate into a good TV sound-bite but lingers in the heart nonetheless.
With our job comes a bit of celebrity even though we Prize Patrol’ers are just ordinary guys. As a result we’ve been on loads of national TV shows – not counting the innumerable times we’ve been parodied on comedy shows and in movies. What fun that has been, especially sharing the stage and reminiscing with our winners.
Of course these 25 years of Prize Patrol success would not have occurred if American consumers had not welcomed us with open arms. To paraphrase Sally Field’s famous Oscar acceptance speech, “You like us!” So, thank you all! And thanks to Todd, all my Prize Patrol colleagues past and present, and PCH Management for more blessings than any “ad man” deserves to have in one career.
Prize Patrol Ambassador
P.S. Did you know that next week the Prize Patrol will be on the road to award a $10,000 prize in honor of the Prize Patrol’s 25th Anniversary? It’s true! Stay tuned to the PCHblog for more details!