Dave Looks Back on Time Awarding Prizes to Sweepstakes Winners

Any office worker knows that at some point you have to clean out the files.  Paperwork accumulates and is stashed away – as if it will answer some future need.  At Publishers Clearing House, our management encourages us to “get rid of that stuff” that will never be looked at again.

During one of these “spring cleanings,” a fellow employee came across something of an historic relic: the resumé that yours truly, Dave Sayer, sent to PCH back in 1981 when the company was looking to fill an advertising management position.  He forwarded it to me, and it brought back a lot of memories.

In 1981 PCH had just hired a new ad agency and needed a staffer to deal with those Madison Avenue types you’ve seen on “Mad Men”: the copywriters, TV producers, media buyers, researchers, etc.  Well, I knew them all having worked for years as an agency account exec on all kinds of household-name brands – from beers to deodorants to hairsprays to paper towels to breakfast foods to tea and coffee to light bulbs to cigarettes (when they were still advertised on the air).  Apparently PCH thought I could do the job – even though I had never been involved with direct mail or sweepstakes – and they hired me.

In my second week I learned I would come face to face with Sweepstakes winners. Wow, what a thrill!  A drawing had just been held, and it was my assignment to help phone those lucky folks with the good news, then bring them to PCH headquarters for a celebration – at New York restaurants and theaters – and then maybe put them in fully-staged TV commercials.

Our commercials in those days were respectable but rather wooden.  The Sweepstakes winners sat on a set, stared into the camera and recited scripted lines like, “I never thought we’d win; but we did, and now we have some money for our wee one here. (Goo).”  Todd Sloane, my assistant back in 1988, thought we could do better and suggested we videotape the winners at their front doors.  He reasoned that actual “winning moment” surprises would make exciting TV advertising, and boy was he right.  Today, 25 years later, our Prize Patrol visits remain the center of PCH’s iconic TV campaigns.

There have of course been many changes at PCH since I joined the company.  Now we sell lots of products, not just magazine subscriptions; we promote our sweepstakes on the web as well as in the mail; and prize dollar amounts have grown from thousands to millions.  But some things remain the same: we are a company you can always trust, our deals and customer service are “unbeatable,” our employees are the greatest, and we want to make you a winner!

And I assume you want to become a Sweepstakes winner.  So go to pch.com and enter!  It would be my pleasure to knock on your door with one of our famous Big Checks, perhaps even for $7,000.00 A Week For Life!

Wishing you all the best.

Dave Sayer
Prize Patrol ambassador

Other blogs you may like:
How did the Prize Patrol Get Started?
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dave Sayer

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