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How America Learned to Live and Thrive With Debt—er, Credit

1950: Frank McNamara, the founder of Diners Club Card, charges dinner at Major’s Cabin Grill in New York—the first transaction made with a credit card.

1950 Frank McNamara, the founder of Diners Club Card, charges dinner at Major’s Cabin Grill in New York—the first transaction made with a credit card.

It’s a trick question sometimes asked of business students: What is the most effective single word in the history of marketing, a word that managed by itself to almost double the market of a product? The answer: “Repeat.” Some shampoo-selling mastermind took the standard “Lather, rinse” and upgraded it to “Lather, rinse. Repeat.” The word didn’t precisely double sales of shampoo, because not everyone bothers, but it came pretty close. I don’t think we know the name of the genius who first put these six letters on bottles of shampoo, but whoever he or she was, their legacy is a tribute to the extraordinary impact you can have with a single word.