Popular Radio, May 1923, pages 382-386:
Gerald Stanley Lee
Sooner or later the question must be settled as to whether or not vendors of merchandise, insurance and real estate will be admitted to the realms of radio for exploiting their wares. Mr. Lee, the famous author and advertising expert, here brings up some pertinent observations on this timely topic.

Marketing  Mattresses  in  the  Ether
POPULAR RADIO does not believe that advertising matter should be intruded upon general broadcast programs, any more than it should be intruded upon motion-picture programs or the text columns of newspapers and magazines. Possibly a special waveband will some day be assigned exclusively to advertising; in which case the venture will succeed or fail in proportion as the paid publicity agents instruct or amuse us--as this article points out.
ADVERTISING men themselves, acting in combination with Mr. Hoover, have decided, I believe, that heaven is no place for them. They have decided that they should not be tolerated in the sky; they cannot even bear the thought of tolerating one another there!
    This reveals a shrinking and a modesty on the part of advertising men that the American people have not previously been led to expect, and most of us cannot help wondering a little just now how long this shrinking of theirs is really going to be kept up.
    When I first began to think of it I felt that this modesty was at least a good advertisement for advertising, that it was a good thing so long as it lasted and that it should be kept up. But on further thought I do not believe that the present feeling on the part of ad men will be kept up forever or that there is any permanent or unremovable reason why it should.
    The reason given thus far for fencing off the big "vacant lot of space" above us and saying that no advertising men are to be allowed in it--the reason for saying that of course toothbrushes, mattresses, bathtubs, chewing gums and catsups and the other things must all keep out and that the air up over America must be reserved merely for breathing, soaring and other more unworldly and more spiritual interests and entertainments--is based on the idea that toothbrushes, mattresses, bathtubs, chewing gums and catsups will not behave themselves in the sky as they should.
    Looking at the facts as to what advertising men would probably do with the sky if they were allowed to wander around in it nights, most people would have to admit what would happen. The air all about us from the rim of the earth up to the bottom floor of heaven would be one vast pandemonium of shouting and grabbing at people's pocketbooks.
    This idea of what radio advertising would be like if let in on us suddenly is not one I quarrel with, so long as I keep looking at the facts about advertising as they are.
    But when I look at the facts about advertising not as they are but as they might be, and as I believe advertising men are going to make them, I feel differently.
WEAF studio
The justly famous WEAF station in New York is for rent--at a specified price. It is maintained by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company as an experiment to determine whether or not there is a market for a toll-station of this kind.

    All that advertising men need to be is sensationally good, incomparably more entertaining than the present education and the present entertainment that flourishes around up in the air; and the time will soon be at hand when people will feel that advertising men, at least some advertising men in this country, can honestly earn their right to the air--their right to butt in as a matter of course on jazz and on "The Man in the Moon."
    Competition works in the air as well as anywhere else. An advertisement is not intrinsically an affront, not if it really draws; and when the Dear Public, as I have seen it do, sucks on an ad like a lollypop, even Mr. Hoover is not going to have the heart to stop it.
    The time is coming when, if the best ad men do their part, the sign up across the heavens that has been tacked up now,
will have Mr. Hoover stealing out in the dark some night and reaching up between the stars to take it down.
    It will be taken down at least for certain ad men. The principle will be established that if men are exceptions they will be treated as exceptions.
    The minute the real Bud Fishers, Charlie Chaplins and Babe Ruths of the air once appear in the interstices of space and begin clearing their throats there, if they are more amusing, more instructive and enjoyable about a soap than other people are about the League of Nations, everybody will buzz to them to go ahead. They will be given the very floor of heaven.
    People are not going to stop listening to a man who makes them want to listen, merely because he is paid a high price for being the kind of man who can make people want to listen. Making them want to listen is the thing. People will like it and they will like his being paid for it.
    It has seemed to me for some time, as some of my readers know, that advertising--the art of touching men's imaginations so that they know something about themselves that they never knew before or that they never even wanted to know before--is one of the great professions. As the profession is interpreted by men who might yet be got to practice it, it calls for a kind of gift and a degree of gift which makes a man who has it and who determines men's lives with it fit to be listened to anywhere and listened to on almost any subject.
    The invention of the radio telephone and the inauguration of broadcasting, instead of being made the occasion of a national snub to advertising men which they feel they must meekly bear, should be and I believe is going to be recognized and taken advantage of by many as the profession's great opportunity.
    If the advertising men of America had wanted to pick out or arrange a picturesque and dramatic crisis for their profession in this country, if they had wanted to arrange a kind of gunpowder plot of publicity--a blaze of limelight in which to prove that advertising must be recognized as one of the greatest and the most honorable of the professions--they could not have done a better thing than to get themselves sensationally shut out of heaven, as they now are, and then with everybody looking on and everybody listening, begin doing things and saying things that will make people want them invited back again.
    Perhaps the best way to make a start would be for The National Association of Advertising men to plan out and get under way what might be called a national tournament of advertising, a series of prize tests, and proceed to present to the American people in the quickest possible time advertisements that the American people would want broadcast.
    A great profession is confronted with a loud, plain challenge from the people. It has a chance to look itself over and sort itself out. People are already interested in our national advertising men. They would be especially interested in seeing which are the ones that can get invited into the sky and which will be kept out.
Sky writing
The use of radio for controlling the airplanes that have indulged in the spectacular sky-writing of advertising slogans in London and New York has become more than mere theory; recent experiments in England indicate that planes guided by living pilots may soon be replaced by planes controlled by radio from ground stations. The "writing" is done by means of smoke from special devices that eject 250,000 cubic feet a second; the letters are about a mile high. The above photograph was made while Captain Cyril Turner was sky-writing the telephone number "Call Van 7100" about 10,000 feet above New York.

    Instead of saying sweetly and modestly, with a whole nation looking on, that they agree that the men who belong to the advertising profession cannot compete with other human interests and activities in earning the right to be allowed in our new annex on the world, our best advertising men, I believe, are going to accept the challenge.
    The main principle which should be employed in determining the question of advertising in the air is the great democratic and spiritual principle that people should never be treated as if they were alike.
    The idea that all men are created free and equal is not an idea anybody really believes as it is usually interpreted. It is a mere Fourth of July incantation. Nobody who accomplishes anything or lets anything be accomplished through him ever acts as if it were so. Every man in America gets up every morning and goes to bed every night proposing to be treated as if he were somebody in particular. Advertising men, like the rest of us, expect to suffer the penalties of being individuals.
    The very essence of democracy, the juice and gusto of the whole idea, lies in the fact that we in this country do not believe that society is put up in big, soggy, undigested lumps of people. We dissolve these lumps into real human beings and treat them as they really are. The idea that all the men in any group or in any profession should be lumped together and treated in the same way by the government and by the laws of the people may be convenient. but it is superficial and lazy and in the long run expensive and drains the creative resources and finer powers of a nation like ours.
    The only thorough, honest, economic, ethical manner of dealing with crowds or masses of men is never to give them privileges as if they were all alike. They are not all alike and they all feel and know that they are not alike; in their hearts they don't want to be alike and they hate to be treated as if they were. It is an anaemic, overworked and tired thing for our government to deal with advertising men as a group. If the government does not want to devote its brains to picking out some advertising men who are good enough for broadcasting, the National Advertising Association can establish publicity tournaments or adopt other means to determine exceptional men and to have them dealt with as a great nation wants them to be.
    One of the biggest shoves forward that our civilization, our buying and selling civilization, is going to have, will come when our inventors perfect talking back in the sky. The first minute people can clap and boo in the sky, can make a man blush or stutter when he gets up to talk in it, millions of us who have been waiting to get even with some ad men in this country--ad men who have been hitching at our elbows and hollering in our ears half our lives--millions of us are going to have a heavenly time.
    Incidentally, the advertising profession is going to get its reckonings and take its soundings. It is going to front itself and confront the people with facts that nobody can explain away. We shall spell out the names in the sky of the men whose advertisements grip. Publicity in America at last, instead of being a kind of splendid national guesswork, will proceed to establish itself as both a science and an art.
    In the meantime, until our inventors perfect some suitable inexpensive device for sky back-talk or at least for taking a rising vote in the air, the best arrangement for determining which of our ad men should be let in to the sky would seem to be a vote by mail. We shall have to fall back on some such preliminary test placed before the public, as the National Advertising Association or some like organization may, for the glory of the profession, devise and set up.