Andre Citroen, Inventor of the Electric Billboard
The founder of the Citroen automobile firm was always something of marketing genius. He was one of the first auto execs to sponsor car races, for instance, and he promoted his car plant to tourists as "the most beautiful in Europe."
However, his real masterwork was renting the Eiffel Tower in 1925 and having the Citroen brand name emblazoned with in 125,000 incandescent lights. The sign remained in place until the company went bankrupt in 1934, partly because of the incredibly high electricity bills. (The first act of the new owners was to flip the off switch.)
The lesson here: no matter how brillant the marketing, it's got to pay for itself somehow.
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