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TV Game Shows / Bingo and Racing Shows of the 1960sBINGO ON TELEVISION
by Billy Ingram

The concept of integrated advertising is not a new one. In the 1960s grocery chains cashed in on the new medium with clever tie-ins that generated customer good will and helped solidify their brands by giving consumers something extra - cold hard cash!

This was done in a number of different ways, and what their customers enjoyed most was the sense of suspense that came with their purchase. At the checkout stand customers were given racing forms where they could 'bet' on the horses that would be seen on Racing shows that aired on the weekends.

TV Bingo gameOr they would receive BINGO cards where they would mark off the numbers that were called out on syndicated TV programs hosted by celebrities. It was a little like Hollywood Squares where a group of celebrities played games on a giant Bingo card.

Of course, the games and the winning cards were pre-determined. Nothing was left to chance. Not at all like you would find in online games where you actually have the opportunity to win big bucks with random numbers.

Winners names would be posted in the stores, along with the dollar amount they won, usually around $10 but sometimes as much as $100. Then again, $10 bought you a lot of groceries in 1966!

These gimmicks were truly effective at giving customers something extra for their grocery dollars, or at least the anticipation of perhaps being a winner that week. This generated a great deal of customer loyalty. This was especially important in the 1960s when chain stores were moving in to communities and replacing mom and pop grocery stores that were locally owned. Eventually the smaller stores closed when they couldn't compete with the idea of winning Bingo cards and the like.

These TV games grew out of favor in the 1970s and certainly would not be much of a draw today with our consumer culture that demands instant gratification. That led to the scratch-off games that really took off in popularity in the 1970s and beyond, especially at gas stations that offered premuims at the pump to take the edge off of rapidly rising prices.

Today, all consumers want from their grocery store are lower prices, not a shot at winning money. But at one time Bingo, horse racing and other gimmicks were the motivating force for many shoppers when they chose where to spend their hard-earned dollars.





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