A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 08, 2011
“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark…”

A popular statement about newspaper advertising was credited to an Illinois editor in November 1870:

“Trying to do business without advertising is like winking in the dark; you know that you are keeping up a powerful winking, but nobody else has any idea of it.”

Dr. Steuart Henderson Britt is often credited—incorrectly—for coining the old saying in the October 30, 1956 New York (NY) Herald Tribune when he said, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”


8 November 1870, Boston (MA) Journal, “Current Notes,” pg. 4:
An Illinois editor says: “Trying to do business without advertising is like winking in the dark; you know that you are keeping up a powerful winking, but nobody else has any idea of it.”

Google Books
February 1871, Southern Cultivator, pg. 64, col. 2:
A Western editor says: “Trying to do business without advertising, is like winking in the dark; you know that you are keeping up a powerful winking, but nobody else has any idea of it,”

Papers Past
23 October 1873, Tuapeka (New Zealand) Times, Facetiae, pg. 9:
A business man says: “Trying to do business without advertising is like winking in the dark; you may know yourself that you are keeping up a powerful winking, but nobody else has any idea of it.”

20 January 1876, Warren (PA) Ledger, pg. 1, col. 5:
Trying to do business without advertising is like winking at a pretty girl in the dark; you may know what you are doing, but nobody else does.

Google Books
February 1876, The Pet Stock, Pigeon and Poultry Bulletin, pg. 166:
Trying to do business without advertising is like winking at a pretty girl in the dark; you may know what you are doing, but nobody else does.

Papers Past
9 December 1881, Taranaki (New Zealand) Herald, “Mirthful Morsels.” pg. 4:
Trying to do business without advertising is like winking at a pretty girl in the dark. You may know what you are doing but nobody else does.

Google News Archive
18 February 1914, Meriden (CT) Daily Journal, pg. 6, col. 2:
“Running your business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark; you know what you are doing, but she does not.”

Google News Archive
16 July 1920, Buckingham (Quebec) Post, ‘Wise Men Say,” pg. 6, col. 6:
That trying to do business without advertising is like a man winking at a girl in the dark.

Google News Archive
8 December 1922, Border Cities Star (Windsor, Ontario), pg. 4, col. 4:
A man who does not advertise is like a man winking at a maid in the dark, he knows he’s winking but she doesn’t.
(Letter by A. J. Rogers—ed.)

18 January 1932, Christian Science Monitor, “In Lighter Vein,” pg. 13:
It Pays to Advertise. Someone has said that doing without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know you are doing it, but no one else does.

Google News Archive
5 June 1938, Lewiston (ID) Morning Tribune, “Canvas Clippings<' pg. 10, col. 7:
Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you're doing but nobody else does.

Google New Archive
4 January 1941, Toledo (OH) Blade, “On Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. ?, col. 2:
Arthur Brisbane’s often-used quote is a stand-by in ad agencies, to wit: “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark.”

Google News Archive
30 August 1941, Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) Star-Phoenix, “Editorial Notes,” pg. 11, col. 2:
Trying to do business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark, or whistling with your mouth shut.

Google News Archive
30 January 1950, Tuscaloosa (AL) News, pg. 10, col. 6:
“Business Without A Sign Is Like Winking
At Girl in Dark,” Say Mafield and Marable

“Running your business without adequate signs is like winking at a pretty girl in the dark,” say George Mayfield and William Marable of the Bama Neon and Sign Company. “You know what you are doing but no one else does. It’s the sign that keeps the shaving cream customer out of the lingerie department.”

Google News Archive
7 October 1955, Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, “Earl Wilson Reports From Broadway,” pg. 14, col. 3:
WISH I’D SAID THAT:
Phil Harris says that doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark: YOU know what you’re doing, but no one else does.

9 January 1961, New York (NY) Times, “Bookshelf: Consumer Emerges” by Eliabeth M. Fowler, pg. 126:
THE SPENDERS. By Steuart Henderson Britt. McGraw-Hill Book Company. New York. $4.95.
(...)
Dr. Britt is a psychologist (Ph. D. from Yale) interested in marketing research.
(...)
Dr. Britt also offers happy simile that add to the reader’s interest, like this one for example. “For a successful manufacturer to do business without advertising or sales promotion is like a man winking at a girl in the dark—the man knows what he is doing but nobody else does.”

12 February 1965, New York (NY) Times, “For Davidow, Success Is a Three-Piece Ensemble” by Harbert Koshetz, pg. 44, col. 1:
Unlike many other manufacturers on Seventh Avenue, the Davidows believe in advertising. A sign over his desk reads: “Running a business without advertising is the same thing as winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but she doesn’t.”

24 January 1968, New York (NY) Times, “Briton Warns on Curbs” by Gerd Wilcke, pg. 63:
Then, apparently addressing himself to his British listeners, Lord Mancroft warned that the American market was not for beginners.

“Trying to sell here without advertising is as effective as winking at a girl in the dark,” the former Cabinet member said.

Google Books
Advertising and Promoting the Professional Practice
By Morton Walker
New York, NY: Hawthorn Book
1979
Pg. 65:
Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.
-- Stuart Henderson Britt
New York Herald Tribune
October 30, 1956

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • (0) Comments • Tuesday, March 08, 2011 • Permalink