Burpee Believed in Advertising

In 1890 W. Atlee Burpee launched a contest that invited his seed catalog readers to come up with the best advertising slogan for his company.

The second place winner proposed “Burpee’s Seeds Grow” which has remained the trademark phrase for Burpee ever since.

Burpee was a firm believer in the need to advertise.

Burpee’s 1899 Seed Catalog

Advertising in American magazines and catalogs changed at the end of the nineteenth century.

No longer was the ad simply information about a product.

Catalogs had always been a form of advertising, but changed because of the mass printing made possible by new presses and  cheaper paper in a consumer-driven society.

Illustrations, often in color as the 1899  Burpee catalog cover shows [above], jumped out at the reader as if  to say “Buy me. You need me.”

Notice  the  sweet peas are as tall as the building that housed Burpee’s business.

At that time in American gardening, sweet peas had become the garden sensation, just as in England.

Burpee called his catalog the “Silent Salesman” because its primary duty was to sell the company’s seeds.

By 1915, the year of his death,  the Burpee Seed Company was sending out over a million catalogs a year.

After his death, the trade journal, Who’s Who in Advertising, included an article about Burpee.

The article said that Burpee  “had become a seed company leader, all the while embracing modern advertising.”

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