Anytime a pro wins a major tour event, especially a high profile one like the Bassmaster Classic, it is just a matter of weeks, or sometimes even days, before the winning company tries to capitalize on the victory. Partly this is due to the immediacy of the Internet and social networking, and the “on demand” society we seem to have become. But it didn’t used to be that way, and someone had to be the first to tie the two concepts (tournament winning and advertising/bait sales) together. The Rebel ad in today’s post is likely one of the earliest examples of this melding of marketing and bait promotion.
Back when Tommy Martin won the 1974 Classic, among the several listed baits that helped him secure victory was a Rebel Super-R, one of the early and more popular line of alphabet style crankbaits. This 1975 black and white ad that appeared in Fishing Facts magazine might be the first example of directly tying and promoting a winning angler in a tour event to the actual bait used to help secure the win. Other ads at the time would promote pro-staff members and their accomplishments, and mention that they fished company X’s baits, but you didn’t see the direct link and sell.
This ad seemed to start a trend that would continue over the years, only becoming more and more pronounced. Just two years later, Fleck would post a full page color ad linking their Weed-Wader spinnerbait to Rick Clunn’s first Classic victory. I’m not certain when the first big sales breakthrough came due to this type of marketing, but baits such as the Hank Parker’s/Mann’s “The Classic” Spinnerbait would have to be right up there with the best of them. Suffice it to say, the trend isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, but you now have an idea of when it all first happened in bass fishing history.