Wurlitzer Mass Media Advertising

(This is a condensed version of what will appear in the inComplete Wurlitzer, a book being written by Tom DeCillis)

This article deals with Wurlitzer’s Advertisements in publications geared towards the general public covering the period of 1940-1948. Wurltizer, like all manufacturers, regularly advertised in trade journals, but was unique in the industry by advertising in mass media publications. Based on the information available, Wurlitzer's campaign started out in a random fashion before taking form with specific themes.

Wurlitzer's major mass media campaigns are summarized as follows:Catalin Ad

For Victory, Invest in War Bonds, 7 Ads, May 1943-December 1943
Music From the Heart of America, 9 Ads, February 1944 - January 1946
Musical Fun for Everyone, 21 Ads, March 1946 - April 1948

Wurlitzer's first advertisements directed to the public, in financial publications such as
Fortune and Forbes, appear to be aimed at enhancing the image of Wurlitzer in financial circles along with their major suppliers (such as Catalin plastics- Right).

During the period of 1943-1945, while Wurlitzer was producing war material instead of jukeboxes and pianos/organs, the campaign was restricted to the mainstream publications of Better Homes & Gardens and Look. The first group of seven ads, run from May 1943 - December 1943 primarily emphasized buying war bonds and had a general theme of 'mom and apple pie ... and think of Wurlitzer' and had titles such as "The Pursuit of Happiness", "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and "Music Heard 'round the World".

Pursuit of Happiness
The May 1943 ad "Pursuit of Happiness" (left, 1 of 7) stated: 'They might be your boys ... these carefree kids playing pirates on a lazy summer day. They imagine they're bold buccaneers, questing a richly laden shop off the Spanish Main. But in Reality ... what they seek is happiness! Your children are growing up in a world at war. How can you divert their sensitive minds and hearts from the horrors of this conflict? How can you best rear them to become goodMusic Heard Round the World citizens of tomorrow? Consider the advantages of music! ...'

The Oct/November 1943 ad "Music Heard Round the World" (right, 6 of 7) featured a model 950 and focused on the Wurlitzer Jukebox. 'The music of the Wurlitzer jukebox has spread to the far corners of the earth with our armed forces. It is brightening the lives of our fighting men on the hot desert sands of Africa. The frozen tundras of Alaska. In the steaming jungles of the South Pacific, At far-flung off-shore based of the Navy. Meanwhile, Wurlitzer pianos and accordions, as well as juke boxes, are entertaining servicemen over here ... are playing an important musical part in the lives of the millions of people on the home front ....'

StardustThis ad campaign came together in February 1944 with “Over There”, the first of a 9 part series of ads called “Music from the Heart of America” which was based on published songs. This campaign was appropriately started with "And We Won’t Come Home ‘Til It’s Over, Over There" concluded in January of 1946 with “America the Beautiful”. The artwork and copy in these ads featured distinctly patriotic themes generally centered around popular song titles, such as “Manhatten Serenade”, “Home on the Range”, and “Star Dust”. These ads also emphasized Wurlitzer’s contribution to the war effort as well as urging the public to buy war bonds. Most of had a small likeness of a Model 950 Jukebox and a piano and reminded the public that Wurlitzer would once again be bringing music to millions after the war ended.

Following the conclusion of the “Music from the Heart of America” campaign, Wurlitzer embarked upon an advertising campaign which would permanently make Wurlitzer a household word. Even today, the name Wurlitzer remains synonymous with Music. In the first model year after the end of World War II (1946) Wurlitzer was intent on maintaining its pre-war domination of the Jukebox industry. Their strategy was to have full scale advertising campaign aimed directly at the public, of course, at the time, this meant magazine advertisements . This campaign was announced to the trade in February 1946 ... as the following article from Coin Machine Journal illustrates:


Close on the heels of Wurlitzer’s introduction of the new Model 1015 Phonograph, comes the news that indicates the unprecedented promotional drive that will be placed behind Wurlitzer Factory-Approved Music Merchants. For a history-making move, Wurlitzer inaugurates the first national advertising program ever instituted in the commercial music industry.

Woven around Wurlitzer’s ‘Sign of the Musical Note’, a colorful decalcomania that will identify Wurltizer locations by its appearance on their doors, windows and back bars, the advertising will tell everybody, everywhere to look for this sign and they’ll find Wurlitzer Phonograph Music, 'America's Favorite Nickel's Worth of Fun'.

Full color, full page ads are scheduled for the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Look and Liberty with the first insertions during March. Illustrations are by Albert Dorne, one of the country’s top character illustrators, and there is little doubt that these powerful Wurlitzer ads will attract maximum attention.

As explained by M.G. Hammergren, Wurlitzer Vice-President and Director of Sales, ‘This unique national advertising campaign has several aims. It will stimulate business for the Wurlitzer location owner. It will increase the play on his Wurlitzer Phonograph to the joint benefit of himself and the Wurlitzer Factory-Approved Music Merchant who serves him. It will aid the same Music Merchant to get and hold better locations because we believe the location owner will be satisfied with nothing but a Wurlitzer once he sees the effort we are putting forth to publicize his business as a place where people can have fun while listening to Wurlitzer Music. Lastly, depicting the important part that Wurlitzer Phonograph Music plays in the American way of life, we will give the American public a more constructive understanding of the industry as a whole.'

1015 Stop Linger ListenInitial advertising started in March 1946 in Better Homes and Gardens, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Liberty and Look. Ads were later taken out in other mass media publications such as Life and Colliers as well as the lessor read magazines of Farm Journal, American Weekly, True Confessions and True Story. These advertisements all featured colored artwork by Albert Dorne and a Logo showing a musical note playing a trumpet which quickly became referred to as Johnny-One-Note. This 1080 There's Always Warmthcampaign featured the Model 1015 “Bubbler” in 14 different ads running from February 1946 to , one ad for the Model 1080 “Lyre” and concluded in 1947-48 with 6 different ads for the Model 1100.

Although Albert Dorne did not share the public stature of Norman Rockwell, his artwork did emanate a certain sense of warmth/comfort and 1100 On Main Streetnostalgia which make the ads quite pleasing to view & collect. He would later go into business with Normal Rockwell, forming the worlds largest correspondence art school. In conjunction with this advertising, an extensive POP (Point-Of-Purchase) program followed where the Johnny-One-Note Logo was prominently displayed in establishments featuring Wurlitzer Music. These promotional items included drink coasters, swizzle sticks, table tents, posters, window decals, menus, neckties and various other items. These items are covered in another article called, Johnny-One-Note. The most significant factor of this campaign is that Wurlitzer lost sight of who its customers were. The general public did not buy jukeboxes ... distributors and operators did. This campaign was a financial failure, but did permanently make both the Model 1015 “Bubbler” and Wurlitzer synonymous with “Jukeboxes” … a reputation which has endured for over 50 years.

Collecting these Wurlitzer advertisements is both popular and an affordable hobby for many jukebox enthusiasts. The magazines which Wurlitzer’s ads appeared are generally available. Currently these color ads continue to regularly appear at Jukebox shows and are reasonably priced, usually costing about $10-$15 each for the 11” x 17” ads found in Life and Look. When framed, these ads make a great additions to your rec room or den. The full magazines, can be found at Antique shows for about $25-$35, although finding the exact date you are looking for will present a greater challenge.

Every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the data included here. For data on Life, Saturday Evening Post and Better Homes and Gardens, the author has checked every issue from 1943 to 1948 to ensure completeness. Lack of access to full collections of other magazines has prevented verification and this section relies on input from others.

Summary of Wurlitzer Advertisements

Advertisement First Ad Date Fortune BH&G Look Sat Even Post Colliers Liberty Life Redbk Farm Jour True Confess True Story Amer W'kly
850 Uses Catalin Plastic 5/1/41 X                      
Pursuit of Happiness 5/1/43   X                    
The Music Of Democracy 5/18/43     X                  
Piano In Every Home 7/1/43   X                    
When Johnny Comes Marching Home 8/1/43   X                    
Oh Susannah 10/1/43   X                    
Music Around The World 10/19/43   X X                  
… And the World Shall Be Filled With Music 12/1/43   X                    
And We Won't Come Home 'Til It's Over, Over There 2/1/44   X X                  
Home On The Range 4/1/44   X                    
Old Folks At Home 6/1/44   X                    
Star Dust 10/1/44   X X                  
How Dixie Was Born 2/1/45   X X                  
Turkey In The Straw 4/1/45   X X                  
Down By The Old Mill Stream 6/1/45   X X                  
Manhattan Serenade 10/1/45   X                    
America The Beautiful 1/1/46   X                    
Enjoy "America's Favorite Nickels Worth Of Fun" 3/2/46       X X              
Oh Boy, They Have Wurlitzer Music 5/28/46       X X X            
Fun For All Ages Thanks To Wurlitzer Leadership 6/29/46     X X X X            
Wherever You Go It's Fun To Play Wurlitzer Music 8/10/46       X X X            
Only 2 Waitresses ... Yet 24 Of America's Top Bands Play Here Everyday 9/14/46     X X X X            
Wurlitzer Is Music 9/26/46     X X X X            
Good Tip For A Good Time 10/12/46       X                
Wurlitzer Music Is An American Tradition, Too 11/23/46       X   X            
Wurlitzer Is Music 11/30/46       X                
Silent Night - Holy Night 12/24/46     X X     X          
There's Always Warmth & Cheer - Where's There's Wurlitzer Music 1/1/47     X X     X X        
The Magic That Changes Moods! 2/1/47               X X X X  
After The Easter Parade ... 3/31/47       X     X     X X X
24 Top Bands Played At Her Party 4/21/47             X          
Stop - Linger And Listen! 5/13/47       X     X          
The Waltz She Will Always Remember 6/16/47             X          
Having A Wonderful Time 7/14/47       X     X          
Thrill To The Tone and Beauty Of This New Wurlitzer 10/6/47             X          
Go Where You Can Play This Brilliant New Wurlitzer 10/18/47       X     X          
There's A Witchery To Wurlitzer Music 10/27/47             X          
Always The Life Of The Party 1/5/48             X          
On Main Street - Highways And Byways 1/26/48             X          
Gives You Everything I Put Into My Songs (Al Jolson) 4/12/48             X          

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