Lee Pitts: Bad For Business
I notice some of my fellow cow columnists are doing endorsement deals with companies that sell stuff to cowboys. As hard at this is to believe, I’ve never been asked by anyone to be their spokesman. With my ability to put my foot in my mouth on behalf of myself, this surprises me.
The only time a big company contacted me was when the lawyering division of the outfit that makes Crayolas® sent me a threatening letter telling me to never again mention Crayolas® unless I put the ® thingy after the name of their company. So I suppose I can forget about being the Crayola® spokescrayon. It’s too bad too because adult coloring books for old fogies like me are very popular right now and we have several of my pictures on our refrigerator that I colored with my favorite assortment of 64 Crayolas®.
I’m equally surprised that no politician has ever asked me for my endorsement. Perhaps it’s my absence of sophistication, or the fact that I’m not what you’d call “photogenic”. Still, not to blow my own horn or anything, I do have a following, even if all 147 of them are over the age of 80 and are not any advertiser’s idea of a “target audience”. I’d think this would make me an ideal spokesperson for assisted care living facilities, occasional irregularity drugs, Depends® and ash-and-carry crematory facilities.
The closest I’ve ever come to an endorsement deal was when I was given a free cap from a livestock auction yard. It was a good cap too and I wore it everywhere until I was asked by the owner of the auction yard not to ever appear in public again wearing the cap because I was scaring away business. Then there was the time I wore a cap advertising an artificial insemination service to a bull sale.
Even companies I’ve had a long relationship with failed to take advantage of my well-knowness. My column appeared in USTRC’s roping magazine Super Looper from the first edition to its last and Super Looper was started in the same building and had the same staff as my own livestock newspaper, yet they never asked me to be an endorser or spokesperson. Perhaps they’d seen me rope.
It could be that I’ve just never announced my willingness to be a celebrity endorser. Before I’m run over by companies wanting me to be their “face”, let me first lay out some ground rules. I will not do ads for things I don’t believe in, like German cars, Japanese barb wire, any major airline, fake meat, or any poultry product. After all, I do have some scruples.
Businesses I would sign a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with would include the AQHA, Apple Computers, Barry King leather tools, Chevy trucks, Pendleton shirts, Milwaukee tools, J.C. Penny underwear, Suffolk sheep and M & M candy. I think I’d be better than terrible as an endorser and I promise not to be caught in a compromising position by using a Makita® drill, riding a Paso Fino horse, eating a Kit Kat bar or using a Microsoft® driven computer.
Perhaps I think too highly of myself and my worldwide celebrity status. After all, back at the height of my powers when Paul Harvey was regularly using my essays, I had some stories in a couple Golden Soul books, my syndicated column was in cows papers from Delmarva to Ozona, I’d just signed a book contract with Harper Collins and I was getting glowing rejection letters regarding a novel I’d written, I thought I was pretty neat stuff. I think my approval rating was almost as high as Jimmy Carter’s. I remember my wife and I went to eat at a restaurant we’d regularly frequented for over ten years. When the check came I was informed by the waitress they no longer took credit cards. As usual, we didn’t have any cash so I asked the waitress who we knew so well we’d have probably donated a kidney to her, “Can I write you a check?”
The waitress looked at me like it was the first time she’d ever seen me and said, “I’m, sorry but we don’t know you THAT well.”
I had to leave my wife at the restaurant for collateral while I walked to the bank to get cash.
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