Evolution of Advertising

22/04/2020 2 By indiafreenotes

In ancient times the most common form of advertising was by word of mouth. The archaeologists have found Babylonian clay tablet dated 3000 BC having inscription of a shoemaker, a scribe and an ointment dealer. Commercial messages and political campaign displays have been found in the ruins of Pompeii, where little shops used to have inscriptions on walls near the entrance to inform the pedestrians about the products to be purchased.

Egyptians used papyrus to create sales messages and wall posters. Such one document found in the ruins of Thebes bears announcements offering rewards for the return of fugitive slaves. In Greece and Rome, lost-and-found advertising on papyrus was common. Wall or rock painting for commercial advertising is manifestation of ancient outdoor advertising form, which, is present to this day in many parts of Asia, Africa, and South America.

For instance, the tradition of wall paintings can be traced back to Indian rock-art paintings that goes back to 4000 BC. Phoenicians used to pain commercial messages on prominent rocks along the frequently travelled trade routes. The other mode of advertising was town crying that was used in Greece and India, where town criers were paid to go around town spreading news and making announcements in the streets.

As printing developed in the 15th and 16th century especially after the invention of movable type by Johann Gutenberg in 1438 AD, advertising flourished. The first known print advertisement in English appeared nearly 40 years after this inventions in the form of handbill of rules for the guidance of clergy at Easter released by William Caxton of London. In about 1525, one ad eulogising the virtues of mysterious drug printed on a circulated sheet appeared in German news pamphlets.

This was followed by a rapid spurt in the growth of newspapers the first of which in English came out in 1622 named Weekly News of London. The first advertisement appeared in an English newspaper in 1625. The first ad in America appeared in 1704 in Boston Newsletter offering a reward for the capture of a thief. In the 17th century, weekly newspapers called ‘mercuries’ started to be published in England, which used to feature many advertisements most of which were in the form of announcements made by the importers of products new to England like coffee in 1652, chocolate in 1657 and tea in the next year.

The other print ads were used mainly to promote books (which became increasingly affordable thanks to the printing press) and medicines (which were increasingly sought after as disease ravaged Europe). However, false advertising and so-called “quack” ads became a problem, which ushered in regulation of advertising content.

As the economy was expanding during the 19th century, the need for advertising grew at the same pace. In the United States, classified ads became popular, filling pages of newspapers with small print messages promoting all kinds of goods. The success of this advertising format led to the growth of mail-order advertising such as the Sears Catalog, at one time referred to as the “Farmer’s Bible”.

In 1843 Volney Palmer established the first advertising agency in Philadelphia, who worked as an agent for around 1400 newspapers. He only used to sell space to advertisers and did not provide any creative or account planning services to clients. But by the 20th century, agencies started to take over responsibility for the content also in addition to being just brokers for ad space in newspapers.

The Early years of Advertising in America:

  1. 1843: Volney B. Palmer opens the first American advertising agency, in Philadelphia.
  2. 1852: First advertisement for Smith Brother’s Cough Candy (drops) appears in a Poughkeepsie, New York paper – the two brothers in the illustration are named “Trade” and “Mark.”
  3. 1856: Mathew Brady advertises his services of “photographs, ambrotypes and daguerreotypes” in the New York Herald paper. His inventive use of type in the ad goes against the newspaper industry standard of all-agate and all same-size type used for advertisements in the papers.
  4. 1856: Robert Bonner is the first to run a full-page ad in a paper, advertising his own literary paper, the New York Ledger.
  5. 1861: There are twenty advertising agencies in New York City.
  6. 1864: William James Carlton begins selling advertising space in newspapers, founding the agency that later became the J. Walter Thompson Company, the oldest American advertising agency in continuous existence.
  7. 1865: George P. Rowell and his friend Horace Dodd open their advertising agency in Boston.
  8. 1867: Lord & Taylor is the first company to use double-column advertising in newspapers.
  9. 1869: N. W. Ayer and Sons advertising agency is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the following year begins advertising its own agency in both general and trade publications.
  10. 1869: E. C. Allan starts the People’s Literary Companion, marking the beginning of the “mail­order” periodical.
  11. 1869: The first advertisement for Sapolio soap is published.
  12. 1869: George P. Rowell issues the first Rowell’s American Newspaper Directory, providing advertisers with information on the estimated circulation of papers and thus helping to standardize value for space in advertising.
  13. 1860s – Advertising begins to appear in nationally distributed monthly magazines.
  14. 1870 – 5,091 newspapers are in circulation, compared to 715 in 1830.
  15. 1872 – Montgomery Ward begins mail order business with the issue of its first catalog.
  16. 1879 – John Wanamaker places the first whole-page newspaper advertisement by an American department store.
  17. 1870s – Charles E. Hires begins advertising Hires Root Beer in the Philadelphia Ledger, expanding over the next two decades into national magazines.
  18. 1870s – $1 million dollars is spent annually advertising Lydia Pinkham’s Pink Pills.
  19. 1870s – Louis Prang, a lithographer and printer, develops the idea of mass-producing small “trade cards” that could be adapted to the needs of individual advertisers at low cost. Thread companies, such as Clark’s O.N.T., are among the first to begin nationwide distribution of advertising trade cards.
  20. 1870s – In response to the high volume of outdoor advertising (including posters and signs painted on rocks, buildings and barns) in cities and rural areas, several states begin to impose limitations to protect natural scenery from sign painters.
  21. 1880 – John Wanamaker hires John E. Powers, who brings a fresh style to advertising – an honest, direct and fresh appeal emphasizing the style, elegance, comfort and luxury of products. Powers is later called “the father of honest advertising.”
  22. 1886 – Sears, Roebuck & Company begins mail-order business.
  23. 1880s – Illustrated trade cards reach the height of their popularity, not only with advertisers but also with the American public, which becomes remarkably interested in collecting them.
  24. 1890 – J. Walter Thompson Company’s billings total over one million dollars.
  25. 1891 – The precursor organization to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) is created under the name Associated Bill Posters Association of United States and Canada. OAAA is not used as the organizational name until 1925.
  26. 1891 – Batten and Co. advertising agency is founded by George Batten in New York, merging with another agency in 1928 to form Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborne (BBDO).
  27. 1891 – Nathan Fowler, in Advertising Age, recommends that because women make most of the purchasing decisions of their household, manufacturers would do well to direct their advertising messages to them.
  28. 1900 – 1920
  29. 1902 – Packard begins use of the long-lasting slogan “Ask the man who owns one.”
  30. 1902 – Unilever hires the J. Walter Thompson Company for advertising Lifebuoy Soap and later Lux and other products in America. Unilever is still with J. Walter Thompson and represents the oldest client relationship in the advertising industry.
  31. 1904 – Cigarette coupons are first used as a draw for a new chain of tobacco stores.
  32. 1914 – The first full-length feature comedy motion picture, Tillie’s Punctured Romance, stars Marie Dresser, Mabel Normand, and newcomer Charlie Chaplin.
  33. 1917 – A massive advertising campaign for Lucky Strike tobacco gets underway, employing the slogan “It’s Toasted.”
  34. 1917 – The American Association of Advertising Agencies is formed.

The 1960s saw advertising transform into a modern, more scientific approach in which creativity was allowed to shine, producing unexpected messages that made advertisements more tempting to consumers’ eyes. The Volkswagen ad campaign featuring such headlines as “Think Small” and “Lemon” ushered in the era of modern advertising by promoting a “position” or “unique selling proposition’ designed to associate each brand with a specific idea in the reader or viewer’s mind.

The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the introduction of cable television and particularly MTV. Pioneering the concept of the music video, MTV ushered in a new type of advertising: the consumer tunes in for the advertisement, rather than it being a byproduct or afterthought. As cable (and later satellite) television became increasingly prevalent, “specialty” channels began to emerge, and eventually entire channels, such as QVC and Home Shopping Network and Shop TV, devoted to advertising merchandise, where again the consumer tuned in for the ads.

Marketing through the Internet opened new frontiers for advertisers and led to the “dot-com” boom of the 1990s. Entire corporations operated solely on advertising revenue, offering everything from coupons to free Internet access. At the turn of the 21st century, the search engine Google revolutionized online advertising by emphasizing contextually relevant, unobtrusive ads intended to help, rather than inundate, users. This has led to a plethora of similar efforts and an increasing trend of interactive advertising.

The share of advertising spending relative to total economic output (GDP) has changed little across large changes in media. For example, in the U.S. in 1925, the main advertising media were newspapers, magazines, signs on streetcars, and outdoor posters. Advertising spending as a share of U.S. GDP was about 2.6% in 1925. By 1998, television and radio had become major advertising media. Nonetheless, advertising spending as a share of GDP was slightly lower — about 2.4%.

A recent advertising innovation is “guerrilla promotions”, which involve unusual approaches such as staged encounters in public places, giveaways of products such as cars that are covered with brand messages, and interactive advertising where the viewer can respond to become part of the advertising message. This reflects an increasing trend of interactive and “embedded” ads, such as via product placement, having consumers vote through text messages, and various innovations utilizing social networking sites such as MySpace and Orkut.

An early advertising success story is that of Pears Soap. Thomas Barratt married into the famous soap making family and realised that they needed to be more aggressive about pushing their products if they were to survive. He launched the series of ads featuring cherubic children which firmly welded the brand to the values it still holds today, he took images considered as “fine art” and used them to connote his brand’s quality, purity (ie untainted by commercialism) and simplicity (cherubic children). He is often referred to as the father of modern advertising.

However, it was not until the emergence of advertising agencies in the latter part of the nineteenth century that advertising became a fully-fledged institution, with its own ways of working, and with its own creative values. These agencies were a response to an increasingly crowded marketplace, where manufacturers were realising that promotion of their products was vital if they were to survive. They sold themselves as experts in communication to their clients  who were then left to get on with the business of manufacturing.

World War 1 saw some important advances in advertising as governments on all sides used ads as propaganda. The British used advertising as propaganda to convince its own citizens to fight, and also to persuade the Americans to join. No less a political commentator than Hitler concluded (in Mein Kampf) that Germany lost the war because it lost the propaganda battle: he did not make the same mistake when it was his turn. One of the other consequences of World War I was the increased mechanisation of industry and hence increased costs which had to be paid for somehow: hence the desire to create need in the consumer which begins to dominate advertising from the 1920s onward.

Advertising quickly took advantage of the new mass media of the first part of the twentieth century, using cinema, and to a much greater extent, radio, to transmit commercial messages. You can listen to some early radio advertising here (RealPlayer req’d). This was beginning to show signs of working effectively in the 1920s but the Wall St crash put an end to widespread affluence, and the Great Depression and World War Two meant that it was not really until the 1950s that consumers had enough disposable income to really respond to the need creation message of advertisers.

The 1950s not only brought postwar affluence to the average citizen but whole new glut of material goods for which need had to be created. Not least of these was the television set. In America it quickly became the hottest consumer property – no home could be without one. And where the sets went, the advertisers followed, spilling fantasies about better living through buying across the hearthrug in millions of American homes.

The UK and Europe, with government controlled broadcasting, were a decade or so behind America in allowing commercial TV stations to take to the air, and still have tighter controls on sponsorship and the amount of editorial control advertisers can have in a programme. This is the result of some notable scandals in the US, where sponsors interfered in the content and outcome of quiz shows in order to make their product seem, by association, sexier.

Unhappy with the ethical compromise of the single-sponsor show, NBC executive Sylvester Weaver came up with the idea of selling not whole shows to advertisers, but separate, small blocks of broadcast time. Several different advertisers could buy time within one show, and therefore the content of the show would move out of the control of a single advertiser – rather like a print magazine. This became known as the magazine concept, or participation advertising, as it allowed a whole variety of advertisers to access.