Publishers Clearing House History

Founded in a garage in 1953, PCH has grown from a direct marketer offering magazine offers to a famous brand that offers a range of merchandise and digital "play and win" entertainment.

Publishers Clearing House was founded in 1953 by Harold and LuEsther Mertz and their daughter, Joyce Mertz-Gilmore. With mailings offering consumers an unprecedented array of discounted magazine subscription offers, the company soon outgrew its humble beginning in the garage of the Mertzes’ Port Washington, NY home to eventually become the largest magazine circulation agency in the industry, earning it a respected leadership position in the direct marketing field.

From the start, Publishers Clearing House mailings generated mail response standards which even the most creative and sophisticated tests had a difficult time beating. Meanwhile, the company pioneered in mailing production and operational areas, establishing models for a growing industry. Many direct marketing industry leaders learned their craft within the walls of the company known as PCH.

In 1967 the company launched a sweepstakes to draw attention to its magazine deals. Not surprisingly, a chance to win money was a hit with the audience in the very first test mailing and the sweepstakes prizes have been a part of the Publishers Clearing House promotional mix ever since. 

The reality TV-style winning moments featuring emotional reactions of ecstatic contest prize winners surprised by a team of PCH employees called “The PCH Prize Patrol” were an instant success when first introduced in 1988. These scenes revealing a candid view of unsuspecting entrants hearing life-changing news altered the nature of the company’s TV advertising that began in 1974 to heighten consumer awareness and response. The popularity of PCH Prize Patrol winning moments has made them a part of American pop culture. Many of the most well-known and most recent sweepstakes winning moments are now posted online for public enjoyment at pchtv.com and the PCH YouTube channel.

Starting in 1985, the company’s product offering was broadened to include a wider range of merchandise including household and personal items, home entertainment, collectibles and more. Customer response has been so favorable that merchandise now accounts for the majority of Publishers Clearing House sales.

The company launched its website, pch.com, in 1999, providing online access to Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes entry, additional prize winning opportunities and exciting value deals on merchandise and magazines. In recent years, a family of online "play and win" properties were developed in support of the brand identity that “It’s All About Winning” at Publishers Clearing House. These include pchfrontpage.com, pchlotto.com, pchgames.com, pchslots.com, pchbingo.com, pchtv.com and PCH’s popular Search & Win site search.pch.com. PCH has also developed downloadable game applications for iPhone and Andriod phones, in addition to running contests through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

Publishers Clearing House is a limited liability company with over $750 million in revenues from the 7,000+ items offered annually in its programs that cover the U.S. and Canada.