P U B L I C P O
L I C Y A N D I N T E R N A T I O N A
A F F A I R S
"Breadth of a Salesman"
By Joanne P. Cavanaugh
You think Wal-Mart is overwhelming . . . try the New Products
Showcase & Learning Center. Bob McMath, chronicler of commercial
culture, reigns in this kingdom of Mennen arm deodorant and
Kibbles & Bits dog food. The day I spent in Ithaca, N.Y. was
intense: McMath himself is truly a walking museum of product
trivia, and a classic self promoter. And even the 10-plus hours
spent perusing the shelves and hearing the stories was only a
glimpse of the maelstrom that he and Jean occupy nearly 365 days
a year. The two create a one-of-a-kind team that has found one of
those occupational niches that you always wonder how people
stumbled into. Obsession usually has something to do with it.
For McMath, his father's history-John McMath's jousting in the
world of mass product marketing in the early, heady days-was
clearly the prelude and the cornerstone. Today, walking through
McMath's warehouse full of items that seem so entirely
random-"Pasta, Potato, Rice, Stuffing-Total 1259" you realize
that our paths are not so random afterall.
APRIL 1999 TABLE OF CONTENTS.