Specialty Advertising

  • Apr 16, 2020

By Margaret Custer Ford


Specialty advertising is a cost-effective way to advertise your brand. In the sixties, most people smoked which made matchbooks more widely used.  Advertising on a simple matchbook was a means of carrying a story with a very minimal cost per impression. 

Specialty Advertising

There are two types of media: traditional advertising media and specialty. Traditional advertising media includes print, billboards, radio, and TV. Specialty media includes imprinted pens, calendars, or matchbooks. The cost comparison of the two types of media creates a strong, compelling reason for using promotional products.

Perhaps the least expensive of any available medium, matchbook advertising costs only a fraction of a cent. This guarantees the advertiser twenty exposures to the message; offering a much cheaper cost per impression than any other medium, such as television or newspaper.

"How to Ignite Yourself – Without Burning!"

The Portland Advertising Federation asked me to give a speech about the benefit of promotional products.  Putting my matchbooks on the luncheon tables as a "teaser" a week before my presentation was the easy part.

It was harder to get the matchbook manufacturer to create only one case of matches (2,500) without heads to ignite!

(I feared this was the kind of meeting a busy executive of that time could easily miss! Coming from a small Southern Oregon town, I was the founding president of my firm and a woman at that.) 


 Front, Inside and Back of Matchbook

The talk I gave was titled “How to Ignite Yourself – Without Burning!”  The matchbooks featured my picture and came without heads, which made it impossible to light. "Remembrance advertising,” or the “message that remains to be seen!” refers to the longevity of promotional products.

My talk "fired up" the audience. This gave me an invite to speak at an advertising class at Portland State University and Oregon State University. I used the same theme to address my fellow promotional product providers at an ad club in San Francisco.  Each time I had the “matchless matchbooks” distributed to the audience.

The Medium that REMAINS to be seen!

MARCO Matches Sold on Ebay Ad

The matchbook sold on eBay fifty years later

People collect a wide variety of items, including matchbooks.  But I was very surprised to see, 50 years after the speech, the book of matches advertised on eBay!

And that is the “rest of the story.”  But it certainly proves the point: Specialty advertising – the medium that REMAINS to be seen!

The founder, Margo Ford

MARCO Ideas Unlimited can advertise your brand to be long-lasting! Creating something memorable will keep your advertising message in front of your audience.


Margaret Custer Ford, M.A.S., was the 2nd woman in the U.S. to obtain her CAS (Certified Advertising Specialist) designation after attending special courses in Cleveland.  Later she received the Master Advertising Specialist through additional education at the University of Wisconsin, and in Kansas City. 

She was named "Person of the Year" by the Advertising Specialty Institute in Philadelphia in 1984.  Ten years later she was inducted into the International Hall of Fame by PPAI (Promotional Products Association International, in Dallas, TX.

Ford, now retired, lives in the Portland area.


  • Category: News
  • Tags: Matches, Founder, Ebay
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