Until recently very few instances of presidential product endorsements have occurred in U.S. history.
Oh sure, you may believe that the president should have an Exxon bumper sticker on his limousine. And you may be aware that LBJ had a Fresca tap installed in the White House, but to provide a quote that was used in the product’s advertisements to this day, was unthinkable. The ethics of such an endorsement from an administration defy the acceptable.
However, an unusual circumstance triggered an occasion a century ago.
Let’s set the stage. The time frame was the early 20th century. The location was Nashville, Tennessee.
Joel Cheek, a local businessman, had been searching for years for the right combination of roasted coffee beans. In 1892, he discovered it.
He proceeded to convince one of the great hotels of the South to serve his product exclusively. To show his appreciation he decided to name his coffee after the hotel. Yep, you got it. Maxwell House coffee was the name he gave it.
So far, so good, naming a coffee brand after the place where it’s served isn’t that unique. Think Starbucks or Caribou.
What about the presidential endorsement? That happened in the early 1900s.
President Teddy Roosevelt visited the Maxwell House on a tour through the southern states. Teddy was offered the special coffee. After he finished his cup, he was asked if he’d like another. He replied, “Will I have another? Delighted. It’s good to the last drop.”
Someone must have been taking notes because when the brand went national, the marketers used Teddy’s quote as their sales slogan, “Maxwell House, it’s good to the last drop.”
That tagline became one of the best known slogans of all time despite jokesters asking what was wrong with the last drop.
The slogan and the presidential inference helped to catapult Maxwell coffee into one of the country’s top-selling brands. Of course, there were no TV or radio commercials so Teddy was probably not pictured in their advertisements nor hawking it on the air.
The moral of the story is that if you can get the present occupant of the White House to mention your stuff in a positive way you can probably afford to give a nice contribution to the appropriate political party from your incremental revenue. It may double your chances if a member of the family also endorses it.
We don’t know if anyone else in Teddy’s family was a coffee drinker.
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