Western Clock Co. Advertising and the Introduction of the Trademark “Westclox”

Introduction

The word Westclox (an abbreviation for Western Clocks) first appeared on the backs of Big Ben alarm clocks ca. October 1910. In late 1911, Westclox appeared in the small print at the bottom of Western Clock Co. advertising. But Western Clock Co. didn’t apply for a trademark on Westclox until September 10, 1915, and the trademark was issued on January 18, 1916. The trademark contains the statement “The trade mark has been continuously used in the business of said corporation since the month of November, 1909.”

Why did Western Clock Co. wait so long to register the word Westclox? The company had registered at least 40 trademarks by late 1915, including model names such as “BIG BEN”, “Baby”, “baby Ben”, “LITTLE BEN” and “BEN”. Since they had registered many trademarks, but waited to register Westclox, they may not have known how important that name would become; or else they intended to gradually introduce the name to the public. Or perhaps they were testing the name Westclox to see how well it was accepted.

Advertisements

The word Westclox appeared in small print at the bottom of Western Clock Co. advertisements in late 1911, became more prominent, and finally was featured in large text in 1918. Below is a sequence of advertisements showing the use of word Westclox.

October 28, 1911 Saturday Evening Post: This is the oldest ad mentioning Westclox that I found. In the small print at the bottom right it says “A community of clockmakers stand back of him—Westclox, La Salle, Illinois”:

January 24, 1914 Saturday Evening Post: “Made In La Salle, Illinois by Westclox” is just below “Big Ben”, and “Made in La Salle, Illinois by Westclox” is at the bottom:

October 23, 1915 Saturday Evening Post: “Western Clock Co., Makers of Westclox, La Salle & Peru, Ill.” is at the bottom:

October, 1916 Cosmopolitan: “A Westclox Alarm” appears below “Big Ben”, and “Western Clock Co., Makers of Westclox” is printed at the bottom, and it has the paragraph “Westclox folk build more that 3 million alarms a year—and build them well. All wheels are assembled by a special process—patented, of course. Result—accuray, less friction, long life.” :

March 1918 Ladies’ Home Journal: Westclox is now prominent. Big Ben is on a shelf labeled “A Westclox Alarm”, and “Western Clock Co.—Makers of Westclox”  is printed at the bottom:

June 29, 1918 Literary Digest: Now Westclox is the largest word in the ad. The text says: “Westclox is the trademark on the dial of every timepiece made by Western Clock Co. It is a pledge of quality”. The bottom says “Western Clock Co.—makers of Westclox”, and shows Lookout, Ironclad, Sleep-Meter, Baby Ben, Big Ben, Pocket Ben, Bingo and America:

The word Westclox is prominent in advertisements from Mid-1918 on, and clocks besides Big Ben begin to be featured. For example, here is the October 26, 1918 Saturday Evening Post,  illustrating Big Ben, America, Sleep-Meter and Baby Ben (and mentions Pocket Ben, Lookout, Ironclad and Bingo in addition to the above clocks):

The word Westclox continued to be featured by Western Clock Co. on clocks and advertisements, and became the company’s name in 1936 (officially, Westclox Division of General Time Instruments Corporation).


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