According to Uncle John’s Legendary Lost Bathroom Reader, Reader’s Digest mailed two pennies to 50 million people as part of a subscription campaign in 1956, quoting a Persian poet, “If thou hast two pennies, spend one for bread.” He added, “Keep one for bread, send back the other penny to reserve your subscription–a penny to seal the bargain!” This meant they needed 100 million coins, eventually depleting the New York area of pennies. The U.S. Mint intervened, forcing Reader’s Digest to make quick arrangement to ship in 60 million more pennies from all over the country. Then, when the company finally got all the pennies it needed, it stored them all in one room and the floor collapsed under the weight!
This sounds like a disaster but the promotion drew in a record number of subscriptions making this marketing promotion a success! In fact, the magazine’s circulation grew from 4.5 million to 12 million.