You hear a lot about interactive these days. Everything is seemingly interactive this or interactive that. The deeper you enmesh the audience into your sales proposition, the better the company’s bottom line. The Crimpanfortis media empire was built on interactivity, starting with the newspaper network way back when. Find out how this stable of media-savvy editors started embedding clues into stories so that readers could realize vast riches from national prizes based on having the correct answers. And then came television. Progress takes a back seat to nothing – except television . . .

Family Values – The Winning Crimpanfortis Touch

You Gotta Be Different to be Worth Mega-Billions

For generations, the Crimpanfortis family ruled the newspaper biz with groundbreaking promotions, lotteries and contests. That was what fueled the present-day flames of media supremacy.

Great-great-granddaddy Crimpanfortis had a plan. His newspaper empire stretched across this magnificent land far and wide. His publications covered towns and cities big and small. There was not one segment of citizenry in this burgeoning country that lacked exposure to the unique reporting style of the Crimpanfortis News Agency.

The Patented Crimpanfortis Interactive Component

What made Crimpanfortis newspapers different from the others was the gaming aspect. Each edition had a front-page crossword puzzle below the fold. Clues to the crossword puzzle were embedded in the news stories. So you had to read the newspaper in order to get the answers. The puzzles even had clues that were found in advertisements.

In what amounted to primitive interactive strategies, readers mailed in their completed crossword puzzles to be eligible for the weekly drawing. Prizes were awarded based on market size. Some of the smaller newspapers didn’t have readership that amount to much more than neighborhoods. Then you had your behemoths like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Whereas the weekly drawings in a place like Lodge Grass, Montana might yield a prize of cooking utensils, in some place like Cleveland the weekly grand prize may be a shiny new Ford Super Deluxe convertible.

Amounting to the National Lottery

That was nothing, however, compared to the annual drawing that occurred each year at midnight on December 31st. If anyone thought the ball dropping in Times Square was a big deal, they knew nothing about the “Pulling of the One.” Approximating a national lottery, one packet of crossword puzzles was plucked from a row of ten gleaming cement mixers with clear barrels. The contestants’ packets included completed copies of the previous year’s crossword puzzles. Each puzzle was tested for accuracy and authenticity.

The winner’s prize would be insane: some years it was a custom-built mansion; other years it was a yacht the size of a small ocean-liner; sometimes it would be straight cash–the equivalent of a cool five million in today’s scattershot money market. One thing was certain: everyone in the country was hungrily tuned to their radios to learn if they were the nation’s big winner.

Progress Takes a Back Seat to Nothing–Except Television

Over the years, the Crimpanfortis News Agency grew bigger and bolder. Forget about the fact that their reporting left much to be desired. They had to angle their stories in order to conform to the daily clues of the crossword puzzle. A rather steep monthly subscription price aided the bottom line–which people were willing to pay to get premium coupons as well as access to the crossword puzzles.

With the inception of television, the Crimpanfortis family saw the handwriting on the wall and dumped out on print to pursue new media ventures. But the newspaper left a vast footprint, a lasting legacy and a corresponding fortune to build on.

Then came the sunspots, and everything got jumbled up for a while.

But it wasn’t too long before the Crimpanfortis crowd roared back.

That’s what they always seem to do . . .