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Elbert Hubbard: An American Original - WNED | PBS

For Educators

Advertising and Marketing


There are many roles that Elbert Hubbard played in his life. The role of salesman was one that was always part of his adult life. The video,"Elbert Hubbard: An American Original" gives many examples of him as a salesman for both the Larkin Company and the Roycroft campus. Students will explore the many facets of advertising Hubbard used to sell ideas and products and will examine the world of marketing.


Students will:
  • Articulate ways Hubbard used advertising and marketing to sell his products
  • Design a "Goodie Box" highlighting products from a local, regional or state level
  • Create two marketing proposals to sell their "Goodie Box"

Necessary Materials

  • Video "Elbert Hubbard: An American Original"
  • Internet connectivity

Relevant National Standards
NA-VA.5-8.6, NA-VA.5-8.3, NSS-EC.5-8.4, NL-ENG.K-12.5, NL-ENG.K-12.11

Teaching Procedure

  • Begin the class with a discussion on advertising and marketing. Explain what they are and why they exist. As a class, make a list of some advertising and marketing techniques.
  • Show the program, "Elbert Hubbard: An American Original." While viewing, students should write down specific examples from the video of Hubbard's success in business from his time at the Larkin Company until his death on the Lusitania. What types of marketing did he use?
    Possible discussion questions:
    - Is it possible for someone to be an artist, a rebel and a business man all at the same time? Can you name anyone in the Art or Music world today who may be labeled as such? Did Hubbard "sell out" his ideals for success in business? Have successful artists in our day "sold out" for money?
    - Which do you think was more important to Hubbard – the Roycroft Movement or his financial gain?
    - How might Elbert Hubbard have used modern advertising to market the Roycroft?
    - In "Elbert Hubbard: An American Original – Chapter 3: Hubbard’s Early Years" it tells of the culture of consumption and how Hubbard helped influence people to buy things and create an excitement for consumption. How does this still happen today? What are the positive and negative effects of a "culture of consumption" on an individual, national and global level?
  • One marketing tool Elbert Hubbard used was creating a "Goodie Box" from the Roycroft at Christmas. The wooden box was made on the campus and contained local products like apples grown on Hubbard's farm and maple syrup. Students, working individually or in groups, will plan a "Goodie Box" that would make an attractive gift. The box could contain products from a local, regional or statewide area. They will design the package and create two marketing proposals advertising their "Goodie Box." These two proposals should use advertising formats as listed from the initial class activity. Examples could include print or Internet ads, flyers, radio or TV commercials, podcast, Twitter or Facebook notices etc.


  • Design of "Goodie Box"
  • Two marketing proposals for "Goodie Box"

Extension Activities:

  • You learned from the video what goods were produced at the Roycroft. Design a coupon page for the Internet for some of these products. Do some research on Roycroft style art, design, and printing and incorporate this in your coupons. Below are some references that will help you.

Online Resources:

Goodie Box Ad., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

The Larkin Soap Company. Digger Odell, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

Walle, Alf H., and Marcella Brimo. "From Soap to Society: Elbert Hubbard and His Saga of Selling." Quinnipiac University. N.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

What Did the Roycrofters Put in the Goodie Box? Roycroft Campus, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

What Was a Roycroft Goodie Box? Roycroft Campus, 24 July 2007. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

Suggested Vocabulary: advertising, Capitalism, consumer, consumption, "Goodie Box," marketing
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Funding for Elbert Hubbard: An American Original provided by The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
Elbert Hubbard: An American Original is a production of WNED-TV