John Wanamaker? William Hesketh Lever? William Hulme Lever? Lord Leverhulme? William Wrigley Jr.? John T. Dorrance? Robert C. Ogden? George Washington Hill? Roy L. Smith? David Ogilvy? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Readers often ignore advertisements, but sometimes ads decisively influence purchasing decisions. A business mogul once humorously commented on this hit-or-miss quality. Here are two versions:
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the trouble is I don’t know which half.
Fifty cents out of every dollar I spent for advertising was wasted, but I could never be sure which fifty cents it was.
This saying has been attributed to U.S. department story magnate John Wanamaker and to English industrialist William Hesketh Lever (Lord Leverhulme). Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI occurred within a 1919 speech delivered at a bible conference held in Indiana. Reverend Roy L. Smith spoke about “The Salesmanship of Preaching”, and he ascribed the saying to Wanamaker. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1919, Winona Echoes: Addresses Delivered at the Winona Bible Conference, Held in Winona Lake, Indiana in August 1919, The Salesmanship of Preaching by Reverend Roy L. Smith, Start Page 333, Quote … Continue reading
John Wanamaker once said, “I am convinced that about one-half the money I spend for advertising is wasted, but I have never been able to decide which half.”
Wanamaker died in 1922 when he was 84 years old. QI has been unable to find a direct citation to a written or spoken instance from Wannamaker; hence, this ascription remains uncertain. Nevertheless, Wannamaker is currently the leading candidate.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1919, Winona Echoes: Addresses Delivered at the Winona Bible Conference, Held in Winona Lake, Indiana in August 1919, The Salesmanship of Preaching by Reverend Roy L. Smith, Start Page 333, Quote Page 333, Published by Authority of Winona Publishing Society. (Google Books Full View) link|