History of Advertising

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Advertising dates back to ancient Egyptian and Greek times in 3000 B.C when, most argue that literacy was not common, however, some say that cave drawings still found today were one of the forms of advertising as images and symbols helped get the message across. This is what you would find in books which convince you that most people could not read or write in those days, those so called dark ages maybe, however, their expertise in every profession is a proof that they were the most talented and educated people of all times. Why else did no one make a pyramid again? Thus advertising is one such art gifted to us by such creative minds.

People making use of their vocal cords took to the streets of Babylonia to advertise their products, this act is quite prevalent even today with the most innovative and cheap Chinese products in public buses made available locally. While on the other hand, you might chance upon a street hawker kid trying to sell you a rose taking support of a few English lines that he learnt in a parrot fashion. Does it remind some of the power point slides memorized in a similar way with no heed paid to books? Anyway, there you don’t actually know whether the kid is begging or selling, well . . . begging is also a way of advertising oneself, thus presenting a verbal resume of misfortunes, though it is always better if someone is trying to sell a product in the bus even through an emotional appeal (soft selling approach) and not just asking for money not earned by the sweat of one’s brow. Remember, it’s all connected to history.

Coming back to history . . . Egyptians used to carve stones with messages etched and place them alongside roads for people to notice . . . Ahhh, Flinstones? Does it ring a bell? Today we have billboards, though here it appears that Phet has scared away most of them in Karachi. Looking back in time, we do get to know that rather than writing, vendors used to display symbols and illustrations of their products creating awareness about existing or new product arrivals. One of the earliest advertising messages written on papyrus sheet is about 3000 years old that mentions the notice of a runaway slave in Egypt. Who else would have it today but the British Museum. The Greeks mostly resorted to lost and found messages. Similarly, advertising through rock painting has its origins in India and can be traced back to 4000 BC. Later advertising took the form of handbills and the first newspaper advertisement got to be published in London’s Weekly Relations News in 1622.

Advertising has evolved through centuries molding itself with innovation and art:

1441: Johannes Gutenburg was a German printer and goldsmith who introduced the first movable type with replaceable metal and wooden letters. Though it is also said that such a printing process has it’s origin from China from the eleventh century. Gutenburg has gained widespread popularity in this regard.

Mid to late 1400’s: Printed handbills and posters gained widespread popularity.

1477: William Caxton printed a handbill, Pyes of Salisbury’. It was one of the first printed ads.

1622: Even though newspapers appeared in the market in early 1600’s, the first ever print ad to have been published in one was in London’s weekly Relations News. 1702 witnessed the introduction of London’s first daily newspaper, ‘London Daily Courant’and Dr. Chamberlen’s necklace was advertised with the help of testimonials. Newspaper advertising followed in USA in 1704 (Boston Newsletter) while England was still the trend setter. Later as printing processes developed by the late 1800’s and literacy grew, paid advertising became common. The start of paid advertising was initiated by Franklin in 1741 in General Magazine.

1655: The use of the term ‘advertising’ became common. After The Great Fire of London (1666), this term started being used by the London Gazette.

1830: Penny press was established.

1849: Invention of rotary press enabled economies of scale in terms of printing as opposed to flatbed press. There was then a transition towards halftone engraving in 1893.

1850’s and 1860’s: Volney Palmer became the first advertisement sales agent and sold newspaper advertisement space in more than 1,300 of them. On the other hand, Geroge Rowell became the first ad space wholesaler.

Branded products emerged in the market, such as Baker’s Chocolate.

1864: JWT agency was established by J. Walter Thompson.

1879: Ivory Soap was introduced by Procter & Gamble. It comes as a surprise to some that the company emerged as a partnership of soap and candle production.

1880’s: Quaker Oats started advertising and emphasizing on it’s functional attributes. Lord & Thomas agency was taken assistance from.

John Powers founded the concept of copywriting.

1886: Coca Cola got advertised as the ‘Ultimate Brain Tonic’ while in 1904 models were made use of for promotional campaigns.

1888: George Eastman introduced the first Kodak Camera and advertised it through catchy words such as, “Anybody can use it and push the button, we do the rest.”

1895: Advertisements for weight gain products appeared, such as that by Lorings and Corpula Foods.

1914: Federal Trades Commission (FTC) act was passed which focused on undermining deceptive advertising.

Early 1900’s: Celebrity testimonials gained momentum.

1950’s: Other than print, television became an important advertising medium as well. ‘The Kraft Television Theatre’ being the first network television program was produced by JWT.

Rosser Reeves used the unique selling proposition and hard sell approach to sell M&M’s and Eisenhower.

1960’s: David Ogilvy used the story telling and image advertising approach especially as a result of emphasizing on luxury and status symbol. Advertisements for Hathaway Shirts and Rolls Royce are such examples.

What later followed was an outcome of globalization and merger sprees that made the world a smaller place to indulge and interact. Nike’s most renowned ‘Just Do It’ campaign started in 1988 by Wieden & Kennedy has reaped positive outcomes and outstanding brand image which is evident even till this day.

What we have today is the era of internet advertising, mass customization and an aggregate of Integrated Marketing Communication. Quicker and better ways of reaching the customer have resulted in capitalization and market growth; however, with two way communication being inevitable, any incidence of post purchase dissonance could just shatter the image of a brand as well. For instance, sharing a bad experience with a particular brand, incidences with Pampers Dry Max are  recent examples which have resulted in bad publicity: http://adage.com/article?article_id=143842

The word of mouth being generated has sent the message across continents.

Today, in case of any immature print or television advertisement being produced, quite a number of clients blame the target market for not being able to understand the message if traces of intellect are revealed had there been different sort of advertisements made, jingles are forever, what they don’t realise is that, the target market that existed ten years ago has evolved through it’s own time as well and what was actually digestible that long ago might not be acceptable today. Literacy and intellect possibly have a direct proportion which has shown increased levels over the years. Though we have not evolved through all there was in advertising sudden leaps have been evident to stay updated with the requirements of the modern era, recent trends cannot be neglected.

Hiba Moeen is a Marketing major from SZABIST and writes as a leisure activity whenever the writer's block is away ... She also writes for www.hibamoeen.blogspot.com and www.marketingmaniacs.net Suggestions and feedback are appreciated. Email: boneheadshire@gmail.com Twitter: @hibamoeen LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?trk=hb_tab_pro_top Happy reading! :)

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/babarjaved Babar Javed

    The documentary, “Art & Copy”, showcases various veterans from the advertising industry suggesting that people as a collective unit Like being told what to do and how to think. So it can be argued that the evolution of mans perception of how much he needs to conform with correlation to what he cant decide for himself has evolved with advertising or is the cause for the progression.

    In this case, its a regression in my opinion as we are seeing an increased reliance on uncreative tactics and excessive use of the three staples of advertising – cute babies (the new TalkShawk ad), sex (Olpers new Magnum style chocolate) and humor (lame Ufone commercial featuring singing contest).

    It would seem that advertisers in Pakistan believe the public to be incredibly stupid to the point that redundant means of pulling them in are used.

    Labeling Theory ya’all.

  • Ben Lawrence

    boring boring boring

  • http://www.hibamoeen.blogspot.com Hiba Moeen

    Hi Ben,

    If you have had the chance to avail higher education, you would know that research work is boring . . . Therefore, research based articles like this one are usually boring. So I will take it as a compliment.

    Thank you!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/babarjaved Babar Javed

    It is not merely a matter of semantics when a marketer speaks of customer experience.

    By going through the numerous reports in WPP’s website, one can quickly ascertain that we are becoming an experience economy – perhaps we have always been one.

    They (WPP research teams) say that customers are not buying the product or service but the total experience around its consideration, purchase , use and service.

  • http://www.hibamoeen.blogspot.com Hiba Moeen

    Hi Babar,

    I can’t agree with you more…perhaps that’s the primitive need for brand loyalty as well…it’s something many brands still lack … the experience to facilitate the customer with … 🙂