Morris Hite Center
The Morris Hite Center for Product Development and Marketing Research was established in 1984 to honor marketing pioneer and visionary, Morris Hite. The center supports research and educational programs related to new products and the management of established products.
Marketing is the key to new product success. Whether a company is in a dynamic, high-technology industry, an industry reshaped by deregulation or an industry faced with increased competition, it must first understand customer needs. Yet a gap often exists between a company’s engineering and R&D skills and its marketing capability. To help close this gap, the center carries out activities aimed at coordinating the functions of technology and marketing.
There is no such thing as national advertising. All advertising is local and personal. It’s one man or woman reading one newspaper in the kitchen or watching TV in the den. — Morris Hite
Innovations in Marketing
Hite held strong opinions about the best way to serve his clients. He wanted his account executives to understand every aspect of the client’s business. While not common for the time, Hite believed his account executives should conduct research on the client’s business, products, consumer opinions and the effectiveness of the advertising and sales techniques used. He insisted his people develop strong relationships with their clients, including designing a marketing plan for clients that gave them guidance on their strengths and weaknesses as well as ways to increase their business.
Hite was on the forefront of new data collection methods in the Southwest. Long before polls, surveys and focus group studies became popular, he believed in seeking consumer opinions directly. He developed a test called “How Much How Good” that his firm used to determine if their advertising was effective. The test asked consumers if they purchased the client’s product, if they had seen the advertising, and if so, what they remembered about the product. Similar techniques are used today.
Hite founded M/A/R/C Research to provide research and data analysis services to other advertising agencies. He was among the first to use telephone survey data, and M/A/R/C analysts demonstrated it was comparable to door-to-door survey data.
As Tracy-Locke grew, Hite devoted more time to community service. He was invited to join the Dallas Citizens Council. As president of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, he worked on two successful bond elections, helping the city raise funds for capital improvements to the convention center and gaining approval for the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. He organized a job fair which helped more than 3000 youth find summer jobs. He was instrumental in combining the Dallas and Fort Worth Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas into one. He worked with other leaders in petitioning the state Legislature to establish The University of Texas at Dallas. He also supported the fledging KERA public television station, personally paying for lunches to help Dallas businessmen learn about the station.
- Linz Award, 1969, honoring him as the Dallas County resident who provided the greatest benefit to the community without receiving any monetary compensation for the effort
- Silver Medal For Distinguished Service, 1969, Dallas Advertising League
- Marketing Man of the Year, 1967, North Texas chapter of the American Marketing Association
It doesn’t take a creative genius to develop sales and advertising ideas. It’s simply a matter of learning to work at it. — Morris Hite
Product Development and Marketing ScienceThe Morris Hite Center was set up to encourage research in marketing science and product development. Areas of research include topics in internet marketing and customer relationship management as well as product creation and sales forecasting.
ConferencesMorris Hite Center sponsors the annual Frontiers of Research in Marketing Science academic conference. Researchers from major universities present their latest findings in the field.
Morris Hite was born in Oklahoma in 1910. His grandparents taught him to work hard and value both formal and informal education. Even as a youth, Hite was a motivated and talented salesman, selling his family’s milk and home-grown fruit door to door. He left home at 15 to work as a cartoonist in a work-study program sponsored by Eugene Arnett. During this period he studied issues of Printer’s Ink magazine and decided he wanted a career in advertising.
In 1927, he landed his first job in advertising and promotions: He became a movie promoter with Griffith Amusement. He sold tickets, passed out handbills, collected merchandise to be given away and even arranged a publicity stunt or two. From this beginning, he worked for several other advertising agencies until starting his own agency at age 19.
Hite moved to Dallas and joined the Tracy-Locke-Dawson agency in 1937. He brought in new clients and helped existing clients grow their businesses. By the early 1940s, Hite had earned the No. 2 spot in the Dallas office. In 1942, he left to serve his country.
After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Hite rejoined Tracy-Locke. Wartime economic had weakened the agency, so his first priority was to reestablish relationships with his former clients. Hite also brought new business to the company and was named Tracy-Locke’s president when Ray Locke retired in 1950.
Morris Hite constantly searched for the “big idea” that would effectively advertise his clients’ products. His clients included:
One of Hite’s favorite clients was the Imperial Sugar Company. Imperial Sugar, based in Sugar Land, was refined from locally grown sugarcane. During World War II, the U.S. government established regulations that gave Imperial Sugar an almost exclusive right to distribute sugar in Texas. Following the war, Hite worked with the company to continue its strong market presence. Imperial’s advertising emphasized the sugar’s purity. The agency created a cookbook that consumers could order by sending in the “Pure Cane Sugar” tag found on each bag. They advertised heavily in print and on the radio, sponsoring a popular radio program which featured The Stamps-Baxter Quartet.
Hite learned the Borden Milk business from the ground up. He arose at dawn to ride on a milk delivery route, even learning to load the truck. He asked shoppers why they purchased Borden Milk and then used their answers to develop Borden’s advertising campaign. In one of the more memorable campaigns, Hite promoted Borden buttermilk as a post-holiday hangover cure. The ads, which ran in December and early January, featured the slogan “Bounce Back with Buttermilk” and included a hangover sympathy card to be sent to friends along with a jug of Borden buttermilk.
Mrs. Baird’s Bread
Mrs. Baird’s Bread was a long-standing client. Ninnie Baird began selling her bread to support her family after her husband’s death in 1912. Hite effectively used the Baird family’s story to market the bread. Some of his more famous slogans were “Stays fresh longer” and “From the Baird family to you.” Mrs. Baird’s Bread still emphasizes the bread’s freshness and the company’s family heritage as they celebrate 100 years in business.
Hite effectively used television and celebrity endorsements for Haggar slacks. One memorable television spot showed Haggar’s Forever-Prest slacks being crumpled and wadded up and then crushed by a steam roller. The pants were then held up and shown to be wrinkle free. The ad was so effective that within 24 hours after its first run Gimbels department store sold its entire inventory of Haggar slacks and demanded a rush shipment. Hite also arranged celebrity endorsements from Mickey Mantle and Roger Staubach.
Maryland Club Coffee
Maryland Club Coffee, an upscale product of the Duncan Coffee Company, benefited by Hite’s creative approach. Although the product cost more per pound than any of its competitors, Hite convinced consumers it actually cost less than other brands since its richness meant less coffee was needed to make each cup. Hite’s slogan, “The coffee you’d drink if you owned all the coffee in the world,” was featured in ads showing Dallas socialites drinking Maryland Club Coffee.