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The Famous Chicken made the top 100 most enduring brands of San Diego chosen by The San Diego Ad Club. Among other big name brands including Callaway and Taylor Made Golf, Comic Con, Jack in the Box, Petco, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, The Padres and Chargers, and WD-40, The Chicken has been a San Diego icon for almost forty years. The 100 most enduring brands commemorates the 100 year history of The San Diego Ad Club. This article, written by Roger Showley of The Union Tribune, ran on May 2nd.

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Jenny Craig made it, John D. Spreckels didn’t. El Indio and its taquitos are there, but not Marston’s and its coconut cream pie.

San Diego’s “Madmen” admen and women have compiled a list of the 100 most endurable brands to mark the San Diego Ad Club’s 100th anniversary.

And some of San Diego’s most venerable names still resonate after decades in the public eye — Jessops Jewelers, founded in 1892, is still in business, as is San Diego Hardware, also opened 1892,

Some names gained new life as they were re-branded — Horton Plaza, an 1870 park’s place name, now also a shopping center opened in 1985. Or the Western Metal Supply Building, constructed in 1910 but now seen by every Padre fan who visits Petco Park, because it incorporated the building when it opened in 2004.

But other names familiar to all in 1911 have vanished from the public memory.

“It was the out-of-sight, out-of-mind principle,” said radio ad executive Sharon Massey, who chaired the "Brand Diego" selection effort. “Maybe that’s part of branding: You have to be there in front of people... With some of them, they were a major part of the community, but, I don’t know, it’s a little bit sad. They go away.”

Such is the case of Spreckels, who once owned major parts of San Diego, real estate and institutions. He owned the Hotel del Coronado and the San Diego Union and Tribune, which made the list, but as a brand name, except for an organ, theater, park and school, he’s toast. Meanwhile, diet maven Jenny Craig remains fit to be listed.

George W. Marston was San Diego’s “first citizen” in the first half of the 20th century, known for his numerous civic do-good efforts — Presidio Park and its Serra Museum, for example — and his top-drawer department store, where the tea room served coconut cream pies. But El Indio restaurant, which invented the taquito for World War II workers, outlasted “Geranium” George in the civic memory, at least in brand-name staying power.

Ad Club President Jonathan Bailey said the 100 brands represent a rich heritage and window into San Diego’s future.

“We’re a market leader for a number of things,” he said. “We’ve grown quite a lot number of national brands as a result. If you look at Rubio’s, Jack in the Box, Postal Annex — they all began here and grew from here.”

Sign painters founded the San Diego Ad Club, calling it originally the San Diego Men’s Advertising Club when it was formally established in March 1912. But their priority wasn’t product brands as much as the city itself.

“The purpose of the organization is to boost San Diego,” the San Diego Union reported.

Another goal — “elimination of fake advertising schemes of all sorts” — led club leaders to establish the Better Business Bureau in 1921, the second agency of its kind in the U.S.

The face of admen has changed since the club’s founding. Women were admitted in the 1920s and “men’s” was dropped and “sales” added before today’s shortened form took hold. The club currently counts more than 550 members from from 250 advertising and marketing companies.

At the club’s monthly meeting Friday, Ann Mack, director of trend spotting for the J. Walter Thompson ad agency in New York, cited numerous examples of advertising that both sells products and influences consumer preferences. Last year Mack's company bought San Diego-based Digitaria to serve as JWT's digital arm.

“We’re in an interesting place,” she said. “We’re in an industry that can help shape and drive culture by what we do.”

San Diego's top 100 brands:

91X Radio
Anthony's Restaurant
Barona Casino
Bazaar del Mundo
Bob Baker Automotive
Buck Knives
Bumble Bee Foods
Callaway Golf
Charlotte Russe
Chicken of the Sea
Cobra Golf
Cohn Restaurant Group
Coles Fine Flooring
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Dr. Seuss
Drew Ford
El Indio
Fashion Valley
Father Joe's Village
Frazee Paint
George's at the Cove
Gordon & Smith Surfboards
Hang Ten
Hansen Surfboards
Hoehn Motors
Holiday Bowl
Horton Plaza
Hotel Del Coronado
Jack In The Box
Jenny Craig
Jerome's Furniture
Jessop's Jewelry
Karl Strauss Brewing Co
KGB Radio
King Stahlman Bail Bonds
Kobey's Swap Meet
La Costa Resort
La Jolla Playhouse
Mailboxes, Etc.
Mile of Cars
Mossy Nissan
Mr. A's
NASSCO/General Dynamics
National University
No Fear
Old Globe Theatre
Pat & Oscars
Postal Annex
Price Club (now Costco)
PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines)
Rady Children's Hospital
Reef Footwear
Rock 'n' Roll Marathon
Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill
Rusty Surfboards
San Diego Chargers Football Co.
San Diego County Credit Union
San Diego County Fair
San Diego Gas & Electric
San Diego Hardware
San Diego Magazine
San Diego Padres
San Diego Reader
San Diego Symphony
San Diego Trust & Savings
San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego Zoo
Scripps Health
SDSU (San Diego State University)
Sea World
Seaport Village
Sempra Energy
Sharp Healthcare
Solar Turbines
Sony Electronics
Stone Brewing
Sycuan Casino
Taylor Guitars
Taylor Made Golf
The San Diego Chicken
The U.S. Grant Hotel
UCSD (University of California San Diego)
Upper Deck
USD (University of San Diego)
Viejas Casino
Walter Andersen Nursery
Western Metal Supply

Advertisers are now helping clients turn daily chores into fun — “gasification,” she called it — and finding ways for consumers to sort through mind-numbing choices, even coming up with mobile phone applications that can deter overspending and texting while driving.

But she said advertisers who attempt to lend their brand name to charitable efforts have to be careful.

“The movement has roots in anti-consumerist notions,” she said. “Skeptical consumers quickly smell empty gestures.”

Mack said she was stumped when asked to predict what newly coined name brand, such as Facebook, is likely to be around in 2111.

“I covered the dot-com boom (at Adweek),” she said, but many brands with great promise soon went belly up. “I feel a little bit like we’re going through a bubble right now.”

Ad Club’s Bailey said it’s hard to predict a winning brand in advance.

“Research can tell you only so much,” he said. “You can predict how popular it may or not be or how people may react to something appealing.”

He had all the data on one product some years ago that had all signs of a success — “Microcrisp,” a wrapping that could keep a microwaved item warm on the inside and crisp on the outside. It bombed.

“People didn’t want to use it — they didn’t take to it,” he said.

So what’s behind the staying power of San Diego stalwarts like Kashi, Hang Ten, Jazzercise and WD-40?

“Everywhere we look, a company that doesn’t have a clear and concise brand message will fail because they’re not communicating a clear, definitive point of view to their customer,” Bailey said. “We as customers are so confused, we almost need someone to take our hand to the cashier. I won’t work with a client who doesn’t have a clear brand message or won’t allow me to define their message. It’s a ‘fail’ from Day 1.”, (619) 293-1286; Facebook and Twitter: rmshowley


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