1980s >> 1982 >> no-929-january-1982

White House bugged

Could President Reagan, the greatest supporter Big Business has ever had in the White House, be responsible for a cardinal sin against capitalism?

In the highly competitive world of exterminators, the answer is a gloomy yes. In short the President helped in the promotion of a perfect product that supermarkets won’t touch: a powder that rids homes of cockroaches permanently so needs to be bought only once.

‘Stores don’t want a once-and-for-ever sale,’ explained Alan Brite, president of the company that makes Roach-Prufe. ‘They like repeat business.’

‘Who would want to produce a tyre that never wears out, an everlasting battery or a car that lasts a lifetime?’

Mr Brite traces his problem back to the day Ronald and Nancy Reagan found cockroaches in the White House. They called in chemists and experts from the University of California and consulted the permanent staff who, like millions of Americans, had accepted that periodic infestations were as inevitable as the seasons.

The final solution the experts revealed was Roach-Prufe. The Reagans tried it and the dreaded cockroaches never returned. The word leaked out and, in a blaze of publicity that would have cost millions, the public clamoured for Mr Brite’s product. But it was rejected by a marketing system geared to a fast turnover of the imperfect.

So instead of despatching the powder in truck loads to thousands of outlets across the nation, Mr Brite has to use more expensive door-to-door salesmen.

Daily Mail, 18 November 1981

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