Business Has Wings

I

IF you or I manage to get along with one less pair of shoes a year, that is a small matter and concerns no one but ourselves, but when the practice becomes general a great basic industry is grievously affected. That is exactly what has happened. A year or two ago the shoemakers noticed a falling off in the consumption of men’s shoes. The manufacturers got together, appointed the usual committee, and the committee made the usual investigation. It learned that the sale of men’s shoes had dropped one third. The average man is now buying two pairs of shoes a year whereas before the war he bought three. The committee was more successful in learning the facts than in finding the remedy, or even the cause. An industry is generally stronger on statistics than on imagination.

Some ingenious theories were advanced. It was felt that the great number of quick and capable repair shops which have sprung up in the past few years was a sort of life-extension institute to shoes that would otherwise sooner have gone the way of all artificial integument. It was even suggested that the spring-bottomed pants so much affected by the younger generation had something to do with it. These flappy trousers covered so much shoe that attention was not called to the need of replacement. But the consensus of opinion was that the arch offender is the motor car, that scapegoat of so many industrial and social dislocations. The population now rides where formerly it walked, and saves one third of its national shoe bill; but no one figured out and set against such saving the cost of shoes for the flivver.

The slump in men’s shoes affects more than the shoemakers. The manufacturers of shoe laces and eyelets, the builders of shoemaking machinery, the tanners of leather, and the growers of cattle, to say nothing of the army of labor, are deeply concerned. It is startling how far a disturbance in one industry reaches, how many others are affected. ‘We are members one of another.’ It is extremely desirable that a remedy should be found, an argument that will change this dilatory shoebuying habit, an appeal that will induce you and me to add one more pair to the row of shoes in our closets.

These things are not true of women’s shoes. Women also ride more and walk less, but through a fortunate whim of fashion — fortunate for the shoemakers, at least — the present abbreviated skirts continue to make shoes a conspicuous part of a woman’s attire, and fashion further says that shoes shall match the costume; so women’s shoes are doing quite well, thank you.

But what woman has done to many long-established industries is a tale to make bankers weep and economists tear their hair. Never in the history of mankind has woman undergone so complete a transformation —social, political, moral, and sartorial — as in the last decade. And as woman is, so to speak, an important fraction of the well-known human race, the manufacturers who cater to her wants and whims have been subjected to the test of the patient man of Uz as messenger followed messenger with stories of disaster. Makers of hairpins, combs, hair nets, corsets, knit underwear, cotton stockings, hose supporters, lingerie, and petticoats have come down to work in the morning only to find that the business they have built up by years of hard work has vanished into thin air overnight.

One of the things woman has thrown overboard, together with most of her apparel, is letter writing. No one nowwrites those long, rambling, gossipy letters which were one of the graces of a simpler and more leisurely age. While business letters have gone up, social letters have gone down. Business stationery is different from social stationery. The one is a so-called bond paper, a stiffer and crisper paper than the softer style used for social letters. Business advances by leaps and bounds and uses mounting reams of bond paper to carry on its multifarious transactions, but social life is no longer lived on paper. It moves on air, and free air at that, in its balloon tires and in wave lengths in the circumambient ether. The decay of the art of social letter writing has been gradual, but the retrogression has been given a fillip by the modern woman’s adaptation to her rapidly moving environment. Time was when a woman gave a ' progressive euchre’ and sent out twenty invitations written on her personal note paper, necessitating twenty letters in reply. Now she ‘gets on the phone’ and arranges a ‘bridge’ before she hangs up, and two quires of writing paper are deprived of a market; and society sanctions the practice. And the advertising man is asked to think up some other use for stationery besides writing letters on it.

Some industries seem basic. One would imagine the ice business belonged in that class. There is something about it that suggests the eternal precession of the seasons, the enduring of seed time and harvest. But meanwhile engineers have been experimenting with artificial refrigeration for domestic use, many homes are equipped with electric refrigerators, and the effect on the natural-ice business is marked. A quarter of a million electric refrigerators have been installed in homes in the last four years. General Motors has invested $20,000,000 in factory and equipment and will spend $5,000,000 in advertising this year to tell folks about its own particular variety of cold-making machine. The young salesman who sold me the device which supplies the little cubes of ice in my kitchen told me that he had gotten his selling training as a motor-car salesman. There you have an instance of the way in which business makes one hand wash the other. The process of selling electric refrigerators offers a parallel to that of selling motor cars—the cost of each unit, the argument of an apparent luxury that becomes a utility, and the service that must be maintained in the background. That public which in twenty years has become an expert gas-engine mechanic by taking care of its motor car, and in five years an electric engineer through the radio, is being trained to adopt artificial refrigeration with even greater celerity. The ways have been greased by high-power selling and consumer acceptance.

There is a chance that the old-time iceman with his hip rubber boots and gigantic sugar tongs will some day be as extinct as the ragman. But, not if he can help it. The iceman is not going to take this extermination of his business lying down. He is planning to fight, back; he has his coöperative advertising, and the nation, or that part of it which reads advertising, will listen for some time to come to a spirited debate regarding the respective advantages of natural and of artificial low temperatures. If the ice companies are wise, they will qualify as distributors of the new utility which threatens their old business, and thus be in a position to swap horses while crossing the stream — as, indeed, some of them have been shrewd enough to do.

II

Here, then, is a new element in business, a new hazard to be added to the customary and established ones which in the past a manufacturer must overcome if he would succeed. He built up his business by faithfully following the accepted precepts, watched his costs, stimulated his sales, advertised, acquired good will, and looked forward to continued prosperity as long as he did these things. And now this unstable, excitable, fickle public is showing a disposition to change its mind, its habits, and its clothes with such disconcerting suddenness as to leave the shortest possible time for readjustments. It has somewhat the effect of ‘deuces wild’ in a poker game. The mood of the people, the interplay of one new discovery or invention with another, the quickness with which information spreads, — by advertising, publicity, word of mouth, and moving pictures, — are rapidly changing the industrial physiognomy of the country and shifting the centres of old basic industries.

It is not that change in itself is new. Ever since the beginning of the age of invention, when people first began to realize there was profit in ideas, the process has been going on. The Jacquard loom, the typesetting machine, kerosene, the electric light, the motor car, flake breakfast foods, the safety razor, the player piano, all caused upheavals, and were bitterly opposed by those whose businesses were menaced. But those things were slower in developing. They came as single spies, not whole battalions. What makes the present fluid state of business notable is the speed with which things happen — what Robert Updegraff has called ‘the new American tempo.’ He says (in Advertising and Selling): —

To-day a new factor — the new American tempo — changes the whole problem of building a successful business. Materials, machinery, processes, labor, capital, and the competition of other men in the same business are beginning to be almost secondary to it, as an increasing number of business men in widely separated fields are discovering to their sorrow or delight, depending on whether they have missed this tempo or caught it and synchronized their enterprises with it.

The new American tempo is manifesting itself in a number of interesting ways.

First, in the public’s disconcerting willingness to turn its back on established institutions, products, methods, ideas, as evidenced by the rusting rails of hundreds of abandoned trolley lines; by the difficulty a woman with long hair has experienced for the past two years in finding a hat large enough to fit her head; by the ruthless wiping out of denominational lines and the establishment of broad ‘community’ churches; and by the fact that the only thing that saved the great solidly entrenched phonograph industry was the timely introduction of a new and vastly superior machine built on a new principle.

Next, in the public’s promptness, amounting almost to aggressiveness, in accepting new products, new methods, institutions, and ideas. Witness radio, balloon tires, the metropolitan tabloid pictorial newspapers, the Chrysler car, the bootlegger, Duco finish, electric refrigeration, pale ginger ale, National Cash Register stock — not to comment on the celerity with which the nation accepted its newly created bad breath!

Someone, who was more of a poet than an astronomer, said God left Saturn incomplete that we might see how worlds are made. The supposition is that in the long result of time those whirling rings would condense into moons. We have the spectacle of at least one great industry which is throwing off whirling rings not yet condensed into moons, which affords us a close-up of the ruthless sabotage of invention hurling its wooden shoe into the machinery of production, and at the same time affords us an opportunity to prophesy. Chemists fooling around with the vast stock of nitrocellulose left over after the war and seeking to find a peaceful use for it discovered a new sort of finish that is not paint or varnish or stain or enamel, but shows symptoms, at least, of one day displacing all of them. This new finish, which has been christened ‘lacquer’ by most manufacturers (though it has nothing in common with the Oriental lacquers, and in fact no ingredient that justifies that syllable ’lac’), forms an impervious film very much like celluloid, hardens almost instantly, and, what is even more portentous, can be sprayed on. Indeed, so quickly does it dry that the spray brush was at first the only means of applying it until the chemists found a way of slowing it up so that it might be put on by hand with an ordinary bristle brush.

The possibilities of this invention stagger the imagination. If it is found to answer the purpose of paint and varnish, not only must thousands of factories producing those products be scrapped or reorganized, but a crisis will confront linseed oil plants, flax growers, zinc and lead mines, varnish makers, importers of kauri gums, turpentine distillers, and a legion of industries whose products are the raw materials of the paint and varnish makers. More than that, a great department of labor is threatened with such a shake-up as annihilated the old-time printer when Mergenthaler made good with his typesetting machine. While the quick-drying lacquers can now be brushed on, the element which opens the doors to speculation is the spray brush. The time required for both applying and drying is one great drawback of the old true and tried finishes. In the building trades especially, where so many structures are erected on borrowed money and every day adds to (he interest charges, the speed with which a factory, loft building, or apartment hotel can be decorated and made ready for use the moment the finish is applied will compel contractors and construction companies to watch the developments with a hospitable eye. The painters’ union is entrenched and embattled against the spray brush, and will walk out on any job where it is used; but in every automobile factory motor cars are regularly finished by applying lacquer with a spray brush, and for years ordinary paint has been put on freight cars by the same easy method. If lacquer is a satisfactory all-purpose finish, — and only time can tell that, — the unrelenting urge for speed will put the painter with his bristle brush and his carefully acquired technique in the discard along with the harness maker, the hand compositor, and the blacksmith. Experienced observers say, however, that lacquer is just another addition to the line, and point to the increased sale of paints and varnishes last year after lacquer was introduced.

Nevertheless manufacturers of all sorts of products are experimenting with lacquers and the spray brush. It is being successfully applied to pianos, always a sensitive job. And its employment in redecorating old buildings savors of Aladdin and his lamp. A hotel bathroom can be completely refinished in an afternoon and used for its legitimate purpose next morning; a floor done one day may be walked on the next. Uncounted housewives, fired with the decorative urge, are using it to rehabilitate shabby pieces of furniture, the ease with which it is applied making small demand on an amateur’s skill, and the promptness with which it dries giving a touch of magic to the operation. The fortunes of quick-drying finishes are not bound up with the spray brush; but, coupled with the spray brush, there has been presented in less than two years to the old-line paint and varnish industry a problem which must be solved, and solved right, and soon. Shall it go with the new finishes, or sit tight, or do both? Is this just a new line to add to a long procession of surface treatments, entitled to its place in the sun, but not to the whole industrial earth, or are we at the point of sloughing off another industrial habit, transferring the source of raw materials to another quite different group of industries and the final application of the finishes to a new class of skilled workmen?

Bread making, another staple home industry, for generations the standard test of the ability of the housewife, has suddenly shifted to the chain bakers. Flour millers who spent half a century in making their brands household words find themselves with all this good will thrown back on their hands, of small value in the new market where their flours must now be sold. Fifteen men, the purchasing agents of the great chains, now buy some sixty per cent of the flour, and they buy, not on the reputation of an advertised brand, but by chemical tests and price. The remaining forty per cent is sold to the small one-shop baker, who is slowly fading out of the picture, and to the grocer to retail to such old-fashioned housewives as still use flour in their kitchens. These percentages are shifting and may not be accurate at this moment, but the point is that the flour market is changing from an old to a new group of buyers, a new Pharaoh which knows not Joseph of the brand advertising, with the result that millers must reorganize their selling, advertising, and manufacturing. Even the grocery trade presents a different physiognomy. The individual grocer is of less importance to the flour jobber’s salesmen. The chain grocers are now the large buyers — meaning, as in the case of the bakers, a few individual purchasing agents who are in a position to dictate price, and do. The flour miller has hardly any of his old customers left, and the problem which his advert ising agents face is a difficult one. At least one large flour-milling company has adopted good-will advertising: selling the baker to the consumer—that is, urging the public to buy baker’s bread, in the hope that the baker will be grateful for the help to the extent of using that miller’s flour. This is a type of the new problems which changes in habit present to advertising, problems far more difficult than the old ones of selling goods through normal and well-worn channels.

III

Such is the business world we have to deal with, a world that has in a remarkably short time become almost fluid, with a plasticity to the touch that suggests — nay, commands — that we should mould it to a better pattern. The causes are three, or perhaps, more accurately, four, the fourth being in reality the primal cause, the one responsible for the results apparently produced by the others. These causes are fashion (as it affects manufacture); inventions and discoveries; changing habits (sometimes but not always created by the inventions and discoveries, and sometimes even by the fashions); and the responsiveness of the public mind, due to the cumulative effect of advertising. These are powerful in their influence on business, not in themselves, but in the universality of their adoption. It is unimportant economically what a few people do, but when the entire populace does it the results are registered automatically in a thousand factories.

Fashion has ever been a wayward hussy. Fortunes have been spent in the vain attempt to dictate to her, or to control her, or even to forecast her. The first important advertising I worked on was for a skirt binding, a tough, durable strip of cloth bound to the hems of dresses to protect them from the pavement. The brief-skirted flappers of to-day probably do not know that such a product ever existed. Twenty-five years ago many factories made it; its advertising was abundant; it was apparently an abiding industry. It disappeared gradually. Its makers had time to experiment with other products, to adjust their machines to making something else, and to adjust their sales to a new market. Not so to-day. If the trailing skirt had lingered on to the post-war period, it would be in keeping with the high-speed temper of this era to have made the two-foot jump in a single season.

Involved somehow with fashion, and frequently mistaken for it, is a similar influence, best described as a craze or a fad, which also produces concerted action from millions. Raccoon coats, soft collars, the Charleston, ‘So’s your old man,’ Helen Wills skeleton caps, crossword puzzles, Wall Jongg, ‘Valencia,’ compacts, stickers on the windshield, are called fashions only by a popular misuse of the word. On the other hand, such crazes are not to be confused with habits, which are a more complicated department of social and economic investigation. Prohibition, the eight-hour work day, installment buying, greater frankness toward sex, have all created new sets of habits which have their effects on business. The present indifference to money, to the cost of things, fewer appeals to thrift, greater emphasis on gratification, the logical result of abundant money, shorter hours, the five-day week, higher wages, and the utter disappearance of the old-time price levels for staples, have changed the entire selling appeal of many products.

Invention and discovery hardly need comment. We contemplate with sangfroid a new one every day. Hardly has the radio become practicable when the air is crowded, and there is dispute over wave lengths.

‘See the airplane,’ said a father of my acquaintance to his ten-year-old daughter the other day, with the wonder of a generation which has seen the birth of flying.

‘No, Father,’ replied the child of a new era, ‘that is a hydroplane.’

Have you noticed the pictures of the new heaters, looking more like phonograph cabinets than furnaces, being tended by paterfamilias in full dress and white gloves? As the advertisements say, ‘the cellar has a future.’

Arthur D. Little, industrial chemist, observes:—

The fuel industries are in an extraordinary state of flux, and many revolutionary developments are impending. The use of powdered coal is rapidly extending. Lowtemperature carbonization is steadily making headway. We are coming slowly but certainly to an artificial anthracite and we may confidently look to coal for a proportion of our motor spirit. Cheap oxygen is almost here, and when it comes there will be profound changes in combustion methods and in metallurgical practice, and these will require new refractories.

And while the chemist looks at the fuel of the future we have already seen the old familiar cellar, freed from coal and ashes, added to the living rooms of the house by means of the oil burner. The coal wagon disappears in the offing, following the ice wagon over the hill to oblivion.

The three forces, then, which are injecting into the conduct of business a new hazard are fashion, new ideas, and changing habits; but what makes them formidable is the speed with which they spread and the unanimity with which they are adopted. Advertising is responsible for both the speed and the unanimity. The continuing body of advertising has produced a receptive state of mind. Advertising is accessory before the fact as well as after. It has created a public, almost coextensive with the population of the country, that reveals an amazing willingness to adopt anything, or, to put it more emphatically, a determination not to be left behind — a sort of mad scramble to have, do, and be whatever is popular at the moment. The individualist is apt to be lonely.

The manufacturer, whatever he may make, however basic and staple, however well entrenched in the homes of the country, can no longer settle down and let things take their course. He must now hold himself ready to act and act quickly, interpret the signs, anticipate the new attitude of the public, analyze each new invention or discovery for its effects, immediate or ultimate, on his own business. He must sleep like a fireman, fully dressed, ready to dash out at a moment’s notice. The silk manufacturers are all watching rayon, that strange new silklike fabric that a German chemist made out of cotton. The telephone company’s experimental laboratory has led the van in experiments with radio, anticipating each new discovery. What if some development of wireless should render fifty thousand miles of wire and poles so much scrap material? When war conditions taught tire makers that lamp black was a better ingredient of rubber than zinc oxide, and the public took kindly to black tires, the zinc people turned their energies to paint and developed another market. The Victor Talking Machine Company did not at first take the radio seriously, with the result that it passed a dividend for the first time in its history. But its readjustment was magnificent. It promptly developed a greatly improved instrument, on a new principle, and last year declared a greatly improved dividend.

The smooth-shaven face has come to be the accepted type of the American business man. Beards are the badge of radicals, savants, and artists. The safety razor has made us a nation of self-shavers, and around this habit have grown up many industries making and selling such accessories as shaving creams, lotions, and talcum powders. The soap has seen four successive reincarnations, as cake used with a mug and as stick, powder, and cream, and now we have preparations that do away with soap. Think what an upheaval would be caused in many businesses if the nation decided to tarry in Jericho and let its beards grow. Such a change of habit is not so improbable as many we have seen happen. The minute whiskers in front of the ears, the earmarks formerly of the bishop and the butler, affected by Rudolph Valentino have inspired emulation on the part of a number of would-be sheiks. At least one manufacturer pretends to be fearful of such a throwback, and has started a backfire. For a year the advertisements of Colgate and Company have been illustrated with pictures from old photograph albums, showing the hirsute adornments of the gay nineties and holding them up to ridicule. Advertising to create new habits is common, but here is an example of the use of advertising to forestall and prevent the return of a habit which would deprive many products of a market.

Hand-to-mouth buying was an emergency practice adopted during the deflation period following the war. Retailers bought only enough goods to supply their immediate needs, to avoid being caught by falling prices. The contemptuous term applied to it reveals that it was looked upon as a temporary device, a makeshift, to keep the machinery running. Instead, it has won its place as sound merchandising. The goods now remain on the wholesaler’s shelves or in the manufacturer’s warehouse until they are actually needed for retail sale. The dealer carries less slock, needs less room, ties up less capital, and actually does a larger business in a shop the size of a sitting room (and furnished very much like one) than he used to do in the old-fashioned store, a long, narrow room about twenty-five by one hundred feet, with counters on both sides and shelves and bins behind the counters from floor to ceiling filled with goods, some of which had stood there until they had become veritable antiques. The modern retailer buys only what he knows he can sell, and buys it shortly before he sells it, smaller quantities at more frequent intervals. Production and consumption are brought closer together. The manufacturer is more acutely conscious of his real customer — our old friend, the ultimate consumer. He measures his sales by what the public has actually bought, not by what his salesmen have succeeded in loading the dealer up with. Thus greater elasticity is given to the machinery for making and selling goods. This is one more instance of the alert condition of business. It is traveling light, ready to change its course on short notice. It increases speed, but it equally increases control — eighty horsepower, but four-wheel brakes.

The purpose of national advertising is to bring the maker and the user of goods together, to make them better acquainted, so that the maker will know better what the user wants and the user will have more confidence in the goods because he knows their maker. Hand-to-mouth buying now shortens the time between the factory and the home. The manufacturer is in a position to learn quickly what his customer wants and act promptly on what he learns. Some slack has been taken up, belts shortened, bolts tightened, and the vast machine that is the nation’s business does more with less clutter and lost motion.

A glance should be given to the men who hold the purse strings. Behind business is the banker who one way or another furnishes the money to finance it. For years the banker had thought of business in terms of production. He loaned money to build factories, buy equipment, extend physical property. Now and then some adventurous soul would ask for a loan to buy advertising, and the banker would bo shocked at such frivolity. Along came installment selling. About everything is now sold on the deferred payment plan. Installment selling means that bankers are now financing consumption, willynilly, and must perforce take an interest in consumption, which includes a better understanding of advertising, by which consumption is maintained.

This contact with advertising is humanizing the banks. Bankers learn from manufacturers something more than the value of advertising. They have come out from behind their marble counters and bronze grilles with a new conception of what a bank may be to a community. They have gotten over their fear of losing dignity, and have found that there is no loss of dignity involved in telling people in words they understand that a bank is just as useful and friendly an institution as a department store. Many years ago an advertising man talked to the board of directors of a bank. He told them that banks seemed cold and forbidding to the average man; that when a bank published an advertisement it was a formal statement, couched in language no human being used; that its technical terms were unintelligible to multitudes who none the less qualified to be customers; and that a great opportunity was offered that financial institution which first laid aside the dignity which hedged a bank and fended off the public. He suggested that this bank do what many of the most conservative banks have done since — talk to its customers as a man would talk with another, explaining and defining the terms it used, and radiate a sort of friendly and inviting atmosphere. In reply the president said he believed that it was all true. ‘But,’ he said, ‘we could not do anything like that, even though it would probably increase the business of the bank and widen its sphere of influence, because if we did other banks would laugh at us.’ To-day the laugh is on those banks so oblivious of the time in which they live that they continue to conduct their business as though dealing with a bank were compulsory, like dealing with the post office.

Not only do banks use the methods of getting closer to the people that have proved successful in more homely businesses, but bankers are transferring their interest from making goods to selling them. They are acquiring businesses that have been created by advertising with the intention of increasing them by the same means. They are trading in that most tangible of assets, good will. When bankers become receivers of a business, they no longer lop off the advertising expenditure as a necessary retrenchment. One of the first announcements by the bankers who are reorganizing the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul into the Chicago, Milwaukee and Pacific is of a million-dollar appropriation to advertise the new name, an action that would have been inconceivable a dozen years ago.

IV

Such is a hasty and imperfect catalogue of the new forces which are impinging on an old established business order and making a kaleidoscope every turn of which groups the old fragments in new and fascinating patterns. These are some of the things the advertising man sees when he looks at his world. He finds new problems added to and superimposed upon old ones. To the ordinary man-sized job of selling an established product in an established market have been added two other problems: what to do with an established product when its established market dries up, and how to present to the public a new idea the acceptance of which demands sloughing off old groups of habits and acquiring a new set in their stead, as the housewife is being weaned from lard to a shortening that is both liquid and vegetable. It is like going from simple arithmetic to differential calculus. Instead of dealing with tangible digits, we must reckon with x, an unknown quantity raised to the nth power. The advertising man is expected to find the answer. More and more in this complicated modern business world the manufacturer is turning to him for advice; for prophecy almost, as Belshazzar turned to Daniel. And the advertising man must interpret what the hand is writing on the wall, or be thrown to the lions.

The fluid condition of business, the possibilities it offers of new combinations, the promptness with which the public accepts and applies everything offered to it, from filling stations to nonfiction books, — creating a new social structure as it drifts from camp to camp in its flivver, but making a best seller of a book about philosophy, — invite and tempt the new type of advertising man. Advertising in its narrow sense is but the door through which he enters a world where anything may happen, and no dream seems too fantastic to be realized. No wonder all the sad young men are deserting literature to become advertising experts.

Consider the discussion that has gone on for years about those periods of depression known as hard times. It was believed that they were inevitable, that business moved in cycles, that the pendulum must swing back, that action must produce reaction. Yet it has been realized for a long time that such periods are due to states of mind, when for some mysterious reason everyone becomes apprehensive, stops buying, ceases to act as one who believes in the continuance of prosperity. The thought spreads from mind to mind, weak businesses fail, banks call their loans, sales fall off, and everybody gives and receives the impression that business is not good — and it is not.

To-day the most pessimistic cannot ignore the signs of prosperity. The business world is saying, ‘Every day and in every way business is growing better,’ and paying to say it. At the close of 1926, Cyrus Curtis employed a page advertisement in numerous newspapers to announce that more space has been booked for 1927 in his three publications than ever before in their history. A manufacturer has stated that he will spend in advertising, this year, the stupendous appropriation of twenty-five million dollars. Such incidents as these are more than indices of prosperity. They are guaranties that prosperity will be produced. They are causes rather than effects, but they reflect the belief of men who back their belief with their money, and by so doing make their belief come true. We have realized at last that prosperity is not merely wealth, or goods, or high wages. It is money in action, exchanged for goods. Securing prosperity by advertising for it is at least as certain as securing any other concerted action by the same means. When everybody is pessimistic, business is bad. When everybody is optimistic, business is good. Business continues to be good as long as people think it is. If they can be made to continue to think it is, as they have been made to think they want motor cars or silk stockings, then business cycles of alternating good and bad times are as obsolete as bicycles.

The new type of manufacturer will find the advertising man armed for the new adventure of business. Far from being dismayed by the changing aspects of industrial life, he realizes that the commercial world has become the field of high emprise, having something of the appeal of knight-errantry and something of the appeal of the Spanish Main, retaining the best features of both. The necessary work of making and selling things, formerly looked upon as both sordid and humdrum, is acquiring a glamour of romance. Up to very recent years the mercantile world was despised, even by those who belonged to it. In the past those who made things were artisans and those who sold them were shopkeepers, and the artisan and shopkeeper touched their hats to almost everybody else.

Each age had its appropriate method of seeking adventure. The knights set out, clad in unspeakably ridiculous suits of armor, to break up the dull humdrum of life by courting the unexpected. A century or two later, as man became conscious of his physical universe, he set out in almost equally ridiculous ships to tackle what lay beyond the Pillars of Hercules, the rotundity of the earth, or a short passage to India. Not only were such the outlets for daring souls that could not settle down to a monotonous and orderly life, but in those achievements they won such glory as their age offered. Always this thirst for adventure, this craving for the unknown, this desire to tackle whatever dragon happened to be unslain at the moment. And all these gallant gentlemen united in considering a man who made and sold things as the lowest form of animal life. Napoleon could not think of anything more insulting to say to England than to call it a nation of shopkeepers, but to-day the Napoleons are more interested in shopkeeping than in anything else. The type that once was a Ulysses, a Columbus, a Roland, a Sir Francis Drake, a Benvenuto Cellini, or a Balboa, is to-day a manufacturer whose business is really the charger or the galleon with which he sets forth to seek this modern version of adventure. To-day Peter the Hermit, instead of putting men on the back of mail-clad horses and sending them on crusades, is putting them into Fords and Chryslers and Cadillacs.

Business is to-day the profession. It offers something of the glory that in the past was given to the crusader, the soldier, the courtier, the explorer, and sometimes the martyr — the test of wits, of brain, of quick thinking, the spirit of adventure, and especially the glory of personal achievement. Making money is not the chief spur to such men as du Pont, Chrysler, Durant, Filene, Hoover, Heinz, Eastman, Curtis, Gary, Ford, Grace. Money to them is no more than the guerdon. They engage in business, and in the business they engage in, because there are no longer any long, slimy, green dragons holding captive maidens in durance vile, no holy sepulchres to be reft from the infidel, no Pacifies to be viewed for the first time. Business is to-day the Field of the Cloth of Gold.