Advertising Does Not Work
There once was a man who ran a successful business selling hot dogs by the side of the road. Every day he would set up his stand with a large banner flying over the stand that read “Tasty Hot Dogs”. And every 100 yards or so along the road he’d set up a big sign that read “Tasty Hot Dogs Ahead”. Then he stood by his cart and sang loudly, “Hot dogs! Get your tasty hot dogs here. Hot and juicy, only a dollar apiece.”
The man’s son, however, thought this was too much bother for his father to go through everyday. Meaning well, he told his father, “Don’t you know that advertising does not work?” He continued, “Those brightly colored signs and banner are really worthless. People who want hot dogs will always buy them, no matter what you do. And please stop singing. People chuckle when they hear you. It’s such a corny song.”
The man thought for a long time about what his son had said. Maybe it was true that all his efforts to let people know about his wonderful hot dogs were in vain. After all, his son was young and smart, a college graduate, so the man believed his son’s opinion must be right. The next day the man took down his signs. He took down his banner and he sat there quietly by the side of the road with his hot dog cart.
That day only a few people stopped to buy his hot dogs. He missed talking to customers and meeting so many different people. He even missed singing his song. But he had to face the truth. Advertising doesn’t work. The man thought to himself, “It’s probably because of the weather. It was very hot today and also very cold. No matter. Tomorrow will be better.”
But the next day was no better. Neither was the next. Every day fewer people stopped to buy. Pretty soon the man had to sell his cart to pay his bills. He was very sad that people suddenly stopped wanting to eat hot dogs. My son was right, he thought to himself. Advertising Does Not Work.
Another version of this which does not harp on the advertising angle quite as much is simply titled “The Man Who Sold Hot Dogs” and is distributed around quite widely. If you know the original source of either of these parables, please let us know. This has some similar characteristics but is almost exactly the opposite of the story of the man who was a cleaner and did not have e-mail so he could not get a job cleaning the floors at Microsoft. He ended up owning a large grocery chain because he had no e-mail address. His response – If I had an e-mail address, I would still be sweeping floors.