Back in 1954, George Thorne and his brothers Eric and Larry were given an opportunity to represent Time in a new endeavor. Conceived by Mary Tweedy of Time Inc., the concept was to run into college classrooms with a clipboard, give a short presentation before class and sign up student subscribers.
Extreme direct marketing. By the way, in those days, a 1-year subscription to Time magazine was only $3 dollars.
The brothers were receptive to this idea and began trying it out on a part-time basis. The presentation/clipboard technique was quite successful and produced a large number of orders. A logical question came to mind: How can we reach a larger number of students? As you can imagine, no one particularly enjoyed endless presentations to these small groups. George began to staple self-serve (take-one) cardholders onto corkboards around campus as an efficient alternative to personal contact. George started postering as a weekend activity, visiting New York and New Jersey campuses occasionally accompanied by his then young son Bruce. This was so successful that George decided to take a 6-week leave of absence from Westinghouse International Co., making a grand postering tour of almost every state in the Union. Realizing for certain the potential of the college market, George decided to leave Westinghouse altogether and become a pioneering entrepreneur full-time in this new activity. The success of Time, Inc. did not go unnoticed and naturally, the first ones to jump on board were other magazine companies. That’s why, in those early days, it was known simply as the “magazine business”. Each magazine had a dedicated solo card: Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker Reader’s Digest, etc.
As the number of magazines multiplied, George once again innovated toward efficiency and came up with the “multicard”, which to this day remains the most common method of offering magazine subscriptions both on and off campus! The first multicard was just a black and white, list of titles. No pictures. You can bet others wanted in on the success of postering and many similar companies were formed.
One such company, National Student Marketing, started buying out the others in an attempt to control the entire student market, and as history shows, they failed miserably. Shortly afterward, George hooked up with Publisher’s Clearing House (PCH), producing a four color multicard complete with cover pictures of the various publications. More solo cards and accounts followed: US News, National Lampoon, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Poster Prints, Record Club of America, Summer Employment Guide, Berkey Photo.
The processing and fulfillment of responses was an important part of the operation. From day one, Carol Thorne was right there making it happen. All information, including the tens of thousands of reply cards coming through the mail, went through her home office. There were no computers at the time only pen and paper. Carol’s diligent manual tracking kept everything running smoothly. Lita Thorne began working in Carol’s office in 1974 and on any given day she would sort and process thousands of multi and solo cards. To appreciate the volume that was generated from postering, look at just one example; George alone pulled 3,000 Time subscriptions in just one semester from just one campus, Michigan State University.
As George traveled around, he began to run into students who were curious about what he was doing. These chance encounters produced some important results the hiring of on-campus and traveling reps. Many of the reps that George hired and trained in 60’s and 70’s have come and gone but the cream of the crop (today’s top producers) continue to work in the college market.
George and Carol’s company, Student Subscription Service was successful for many reasons but perhaps the most important was their reliability and integrity. Now this family business is known as On-Campus Promotions, Inc and reliability, integrity and results continue to be the foundation of their service. Through OCP, Bruce and Lita Thorne continue the grassroots tradition of delivering consistent quality and honoring commitment.