Who is Stanley Arnold, and what does he have to do with the Goodyear Christmas albums? Everything, as it turns out. The liner notes for the first nine albums gave credit to a firm known as “Stanley Arnold & Associates,” and I always wondered what that meant. I found the answer in a book called “Tale of the Blue Horse and Other Million Dollar Adventures”, authored by Stanley Arnold himself.
Simply put, Stanley Arnold was an idea man. He originally worked for the ad agency Young & Rubicam, then struck out on his own. He didn’t want to start an ad agency, he started an idea agency, coming up with marketing ideas for companies but letting them (or their ad agencies) handle the details themselves. One of those ideas was getting Goodyear to put out an album of Christmas songs. His logic was simple: “Santa Claus never used a tire, but it occurred to me that Christmas had two deep connections with Goodyear. First, everyone is interested in Christmas; second, Goodyear sells many, many tires during the pre-Christmas season. That would be the million dollar idea for Goodyear, I decided: an album of Christmas music.” He was adamant that the album not be one of “cutie” songs like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or “Rudolph”, but rather of classic tunes done by quality artists – a collection worthy to be called “The GREAT Songs of Christmas.”
Arnold was savvy business-wise, not just in the idea department. He had Goodyear act as the outlet for the album, but did not require them to actually invest anything in it; that way, Goodyear couldn’t lose a penny on the deal even if no one actually bought the record. But he did have to convince Goodyear to think big: they initially thought 30,000 copies nationwide would be sufficient for Columbia to make; Arnold was thinking 3 million. They eventually compromised at 900,000. The success was proven by a simple act: by December 1, Goodyear ordered its advertising agency to stop all advertising for the record –because there weren’t any left! The print order for the 1962 album was 1.5 million, and almost 2 million for the 1963 album. History repeated itself, and those albums sold out well before Christmas also. (One additional note: the ad agency that created, and prematurely had to cancel, the ads for the albums was Arnold’s old firm, Young & Rubicam.)
“Tale of the Blue Horse” was published in 1967, and the Stanley Arnold acknowledgment stopped on the albums two years later. I don’t know if the contract ran out, or Goodyear decided to take over, or if Columbia decided to deal directly with Goodyear. But at least we know how this whole thing got started. Based on his writing, Arnold thinks quite a bit of himself. But that ego has given millions of us a million memories – and the fact that you’re reading this shows that those memories carry on many years later. God bless you, Stanley Arnold!