Who was born at Christmas time? [RADvent Calendar Door 7]

Once upon a time, at Christmas, a very special and beloved person was born.

Amidst much anticipation and under twinkling stars, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer came into the world in 1939, thanks to the pen of Montgomery Ward staff copywriter Bob L. May.

If you don’t have a story of your own, you can always create one. Learn how, here.

Behind RADvent Calendar Door Numbero 7, I’m giving you the gift of Rudolph’s story… and showing you how you can use it to make yourself stand out.

Montgomery Ward, once one of the biggest department stores in the world, used to buy and give away colouring books for Christmas every year, but that was an expensive thing to do. So in 1939, they asked Bob L. May to create their own book, and Rudolph was born.

What he created became one of the best-known Christmas tales. You know it: a bunch of youngsters, a little bullying, a job to do, some pesky fog, and the under-dog-reindeer done good.

What you might not know is how clever a marketing ploy this was — and how lucky Montgomery Ward and Bob L. May were that it took off. I doubt either the company nor the copywriter had any inkling of just how successful it would be.

The department store produced Rudolph as a magazine poem and gave away 2.4 million copies to its customers during the 1939 Christmas period — the only year it was made, because of war-time restrictions on paper.

You can imagine how quickly the magazine became a collector’s item…

In 1946, another 3.6 million copies were handed out to Montgomery Ward’s shoppers.

The only place you could get your hands on this story was at the department store. As word spread, you can bet your butt many, many people went to MW who otherwise would not have done so. I rather suspect Rudolph brought that shop more new customers than they could ever have dreamed of.

Because of that, MW could afford to be generous, so the president gave the poem’s copyright to Bob L. May as a Christmas bonus. A hell of a bonus, because someone offered to turn it into a song, and the song became the second best selling Christmas record ever (after White Christmas). Can you imagine the royalties…?

Bob L. May was a master of dreaming up legends for brands. He’s not the only one, either…

If you don’t have a story of your own, you can always create one. If that’s something you’d like to do, but you’re stuck for ideas, get some help. Sign up to my daily emails and start making yourself stand out from your competition.

You can make your competition completely irrelevant… but you have to be brave enough to stand out like a red nose on a reindeer.

Are you?

Get going by popping your details in that box down there


About the Author

Vicky Fraser

Please do share any articles from this site in part or in full — as long as you leave all links intact, give credit to the author, and include a link to this website and the following bio. Vicky is a gin-quaffing, pole-dancing, trapeze-swinging copywriter who writes about the perils and joys of writing, velociraptor training, and running a small business. She writes this stuff on her websites vickyfraser.com and cookiesforbreakfast.co.uk. She’s the author of one book (with two more in utero) and teaches small business owners how to write copy that sells, and how to be more fecking interesting. You can follow her on FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest, and LinkedIn.


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