The Advertising Failures of Franco Cozzo – Executive Success Australia

Grand Sale, Grand Sale, Grand Sale. Where, in Brunswick and a-Footiscray.

Who can forget these words from this 80s iconic ad. Whether anyone would have bought that style of furniture has always been a question I have had, but you know what – he was successful.

Watch the original ad below.

What ever happened to Franco Cozzo?

You might be surprised to know that he still has a store open in Footscray.

Here it is, looking a little bit worse for wear.

He was quite a celebrity in his day. Who couldn’t recite the lines from his ads. They were almost as well know around Melbourne as the words to “Mary had a Little Lamb”. He was easily one of the most recognised brands in Melbourne.

By about the mid 90s, rumours started to spread.

Here is one rumour I heard from a Policman’s daughter back in 2001.

“Franco Cozzo is a major drug dealer in Australia. His stores were set-up as a staging ground for his drug shipments. The drugs were being shiped inside the furniture itself, in the legs of the chairs and tables.

“Every time an ad was aired on television it was a signal to the drug cartels that a new shipment had arrived and was ready for distribution.”

Very interesting story and I bought it for quite a number of years, assuming that he had gone out of business due to these “criminal” activities. Of course there was no proof of any wrong doing, but his TV ads had stopped and it was the only explanation that I had come across.

Of course these rumours were completely false. According to an article in The Age “What ever happened to Fracco Cozzo” by Michelle Griffin, his son Lou went to court for drug trafficking. This had nothing to do with the stores or the rumours that had spread.

The mistake of Franco Cozzo

Franco Cozzo became famous for one reason, regular advertising.

Why did everyone know him? Because he advertised week after week for quite a number of years. In fact he became a celebrity through sheer volume of communication.

This same phenomena has occurred for a number of business owners in the last 10 years. Examples include Chris & Marie (Chris & Marie’s Plant Farms) and Frank Walker (National Tiles).

So Franco Cozzo made one very big mistake – he stopped advertising!

A business is similar to a living organism. What is the major difference between a living organism and an inanimate object? Simple, living things communicate.

Have you ever had this feeling before, a good friend stops talking to you all of a sudden. No phone calls, letters or e-mails. Did you get the idea that something bad must have happened to them?  The chances are if the communication was just cut off suddenly you thought something bad.

The same applies to a business. If a business all of a sudden stops communicating (advertising) this same phenomena occurs. People assume something bad must have happened, such as the business had closed down.

People don’t like to be in a mystery. They like answers. When a person or business suddenly stops communicating, it creates a mystery. Why have they stopped communicating?

To remove this mystery people will invent answers. You will have experienced this before. When someone stops talking to you all of a sudden you will invent answers as to why. Have you ever waited a few days for a phone call from a boyfriend or girlfriend? I bet you came up with some pretty interesting reasons why they hadn’t called you. This is what happens in business.

The worst thing a business can do is to stop communicating or to stop advertising.

When business is tough what do most businesses do? Cut their advertising and marketing budgets! I have seen this time and time again. And what does it result in – financial disaster.

When business is tough the answer is not less communication but more communication. To lessen ones advertising or communication is to create in the minds of your audience the feeling that you are in trouble, closing down or already closed down. It is also the perfect way to start a rumour mill, as people will invent reasons why you have stopped advertising.

What is the answer?

In tough times the answer is not to cut your advertising budget but to use Intelligent Promotion to increase your sales.

There are fundamental principles of Marketing and Promotion that you can use to gain greater response for your advertising dollar.

Don’t make the same mistake as Franco Cozzo. Never, never, never cut your advertising and communication to your clients.

Remember in the minds of your customers, communication = life and survival.

In future Blogs I will explain exactly how to use Intelligent Promotion to increase your sales and get out of a tough business situation.

Kane Hooper
Specialist in Business Turnarounds and Accelerated Growth
Executive Success Australia


Clients spending less than they used to?

It is very easy in these times to assume that things are just going bad in the economy and that your company has to ride with it. That’s right—your business is like a leaf in the wind and things will improve when the economy picks up.

A better way to look at it is that you are running a sailing ship. If you find yourself in the middle of a big storm, what would you think of a captain who said “nothing we can do about it, it’s just the weather”! He is forgetting that his navigation is poor. If his crew is not tight and coordinated they will not handle the storm well—some get hurt, others washed overboard and some ships get smashed on the rocks! In a well-drilled, well maintained and well-managed ship the chances of a big disaster are virtually non-existent—even if they hit a big storm.

Look, don’t listen

You may have noticed there is a lot of media promotion of how terrible the economy is going. My question is: How much of it is true? Have you looked at your sales or volumes? Are they down that much? Yes, volumes are down in some areas, but does that mean your sales have to go down?!

The real danger in the “global financial crisis” is agreeing to it. The moment you agree that times are tough and there is nothing you can do about it is the moment you become ineffective as an owner or manager. At this point you lay yourself open for a “shipwreck”.

Increasing sales—how to be the life of the party.

Have you ever been to a party and noticed there was a really popular person who was confident and likeable and drew attention? And you sat there thinking I wish I could be like that?

I once observed such a person closely and found one difference: This person could originate communication.

This may sound simple, but look back for yourself—a person or business which can start communicating and keep communicating will be successful.

By using this principle now, you really can take advantage of the doom and gloom, as many of your competitors will stop communicating because they think no one will buy! Or “No one has any money”.

Make your company communicate

Now is the time to increase the amount of communication that flows from every area of your company.

Here are some examples of what you can do:

  • As the boss, call all your best customers and have a chat.
  • When your clients pay on time, send them a thank you letter.
  • Send out a newsletter.
  • Get your sales guys to call in on every customer and see how they are going.

And so on.

Any way you can get all staff in your business to communicate more will increase your sales and success in the long run. You never know–it may even happen quickly.

We run a mentoring program for executives in which we help boost sales quickly and I can tell you the results can be swift by doing the above even crudely. Give it a try!

If you have any questions contact me at

Oisin Grogan


Executive Success Australia

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