Archive for August 1st, 2016

August 1, 2016

Will It Play In Peoria?

groucho

Will it play in Peoria?‘ is a figure of speech that is traditionally used to ask whether a given product, person, promotional theme, or event will appeal to mainstream (also called ‘Main Street’) America, or across a broad range of demographic and psychographic groups. The phrase was popularized during the vaudeville era and in movies by Groucho Marx. The belief was that if a new show was successful in Peoria, a main Midwestern stop for vaudeville acts, it would be successful anywhere.

Jack Mabley, writing in the ‘Chicago Tribune,’ concluded that ‘if it plays in Peoria it has good taste,’ but a more apt meaning is, according to James C. Ballowe, former dean of Peoria’s Bradley University graduate school, that ‘Peoria is a tough audience.’ The phrase subsequently was adopted by politicians, pollsters, and promoters to question the potential mainstream acceptance of anything new.

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