Selling Ice to Eskimos

imageimages (16) Ice-to-Eskimos-4x6

Darren McEwen alerted me to this photograph (from 1943) currently featured in National Geographic’s Flashback section. He notes that it looks like a guy trying to sell a refrigerator to eskimos. Actually, the women are Bolivian cholitas, not eskimos. The caption explains:

Urban cholitas have little to do with popular beliefs of a timeless, unchanging indigenous culture,” explains American University anthropology professor Lesley Gill. Today, “they are urban born and frequently well-to-do. They make their money primarily from commerce, and their style of dress expresses a dynamic, expensive, and completely modern sense of Aymara femininity. Many hats come from Italy, for example,” Gill notes, “and nowadays the cloth for their skirts comes from Korea.


If you want a real picture of a guy selling ice to eskimos, here’s legendary pr stuntster Jim Moran in 1938, bundled in furs up in Alaska with an icebox, trying to make the aphorism a reality. (Photo from Mark Borkowski’s Improperganda.)

Moran’s most infamous stunt was when he tried to tie midgets to kites and fly them over Central Park. His idea was that the midgets would carry billboards on which he would sell advertising space. When the police told him he wasn’t allowed to do it, he remarked, “It’s a sad day for American capitalism when a man can’t fly a midget on a kite over Central Park.”

Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Jul 08, 2008 | Comments (0)
Category: Business, Advertising

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