Advertising History

Ancient Forms of Advertising

Town Criers

Paper Packaging in China around the13th century. China has had paper making since the 1st century and block printing since the 9th century.
According to Cao Yannong, these packaging ads were "made from the barks of mulberry." And used "elaborate black patterns, such as the forms of lotuses and clouds, are decorated on the paper. There are 70 Chinese characters on the top right of the paper which describes the variety, quality and characteristics of the commodity, and the address of the store is also printed on the paper. Those are quite similar features to modern ads" (

1450-1456 -Johann (or Johannes) Gutenberg - creates the movable type printing press (

Advertising in England

William Caxton - One of the first English printed advertisements was a handbill printed by Caxton in 1477 and reading: "Pyes * * * of Salisbury * * * good and chepe * * * if it please any man spirituel or temporel to bye." ....The ad offered printed "Pyes," or clerical rules, telling how the clergy at Salisbury dealt with the changing date of Easter.

"Siquis"- "If anybody......


1666- After the Great Fire in London. The word "advertisement" began to be used by the London Gazette.

Advertising in America from Colonial Times to 1860

First printed ad in America- 1704 Boston News Letter "notices of houses, lands, ships, vessels, or merchandise to be sold or let, or servants run away, or goods stole or lost" would be inserted at rates ranging from twelve-pence to five shillings.

Colonial Postmasters

Broadsides- advertised land, groceries and slaves

Ben Franklin - Pennsylvania Gazette - used larger headlines and art

1830's- penny press

1840's-1864- Volney Palmer sold advertising space in over 1,300 newspapers (Vannatta, 1994)

Civil War- soldiers used other products, traveled to other areas, and used patent medicines.

Tobacco ads- John Green's "bright tobacco" becomes Bull Durham
Buck Duke produces pre-rolled cigarettes
R.J. Reynolds launches a major campaign for Camels. (

Patent medicines- By the 1890's, 50% of all advertisements were for patent medicines (CC) Brown's Iron Bitters, Carter's Little Liver Pills, Dr. Kinsman, Clark & Stanley Snake Oil Liniment, and Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound provided medicines to cure a wide variety of medical problems. (

Industrial Revolution in the United States (1870-1900) During this period, The US experienced increases in population and immigration, the establishment of faster and better transportation, the development of factories, and increased inventions. Production increased, BRANDS were developed and modern advertising emerged.

Some early brands:

Ivory Soap- "99 and 44/100 percent pure" (1882 ad, Procter & Gamble) and "It Floats" from 1901. (Ivory it floats)

Quaker Oats- In the 1880's the purity and "the easy to cook" nature of the product was emphasized. Albert Lasker ( Lord & Thomas Agency) assigned the product to Claude Hopkins who touted "Puffed Rice" and "Puffed Wheat" using "reason-why copy"

Sunkist- Hopkins helped to convince the American public to "Drink an Orange" and to eat canned products such as Van Camp's pork and beans (Smith, 1994). Lasker and Hopkins used tasting demonstrations, expert opinion, coupons, and other devices of modern marketing.

Coca-Cola- In 1886 Coca-Cola was advertised as "The Ideal Brain Tonic" but by 1904 celebrities and models were used to promote the product

Kodak-George Eastman ads emphasized "Anybody can use it" and "Push the button -- we do the rest"

1869- George Rowell- sold advertisers blocks in newspapers. Developed a advertising rate directory. He helped establish Printer's Ink a trade journal for the emerging advertising industry.

1869-1890's- N.W. Ayer & Sons becomes one of the largest ad agencies. At first it specialized in newspaper ads for department stores like Wannamakers in Philadelphia. It launched a campaign for Uneeda Biscuit for National Biscuit Company. The agency also helped Cyrus Curtis to establish an magazine empire with the Ladies' Home Journal as the anchor. A commission system for media buying is established.

J. Walter Thompson - convinced Magazines such as Harpers and Atlantic Monthly to run ads.

Reform at the Turn of the 20th Century

Ladies' Home Journal in 1904 runs articles on advertising and patent medicine fraud.
1905- advertising clubs help to create the Better Business Bureau.

More new products are advertised.

1906- Pure Food and Drug Act.

1908- Helen Lansdowne and Stanley Resor begin to build J. Walter Thompson into a super agency (Keding, 1994). Helen L. Resor uses romance (woodbury soap and Lux), celebrity testimonials (Pond's), photography, and recipes (Libby's).

1914- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)- "unfair methods of doing business are hereby declared illegal." One of these unfair methods is deceptive advertising.

1917- American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) helps with the war effort during WWI.

World War I Ads - "Uncle Sam" poster by James Montgomery Flagg

Radio Era

1920- 1st federally licensed commercial radio station KDKA.

1921- Vincent Lopez orchestra- asked listeners to call in for tickets.

1922-1st radio advertisement runs on New York station WEAF. The ad is about real estate. Radio advertising quickly became popular. "By 1927, more than $4 million was spent...and $40 million by 1930" (Schulberg, 1996 p.23). Most ads were produced live until the mid-thirties. Some popular radio advertising jingles were "J-E-L-L-O"; "Sound off- for Chesterfield!"; Gillette's "Look Sharp -- be sharp!" ; Lucky Strike's "Be Happy, Go Lucky" (p.27) Many programs became sponsored like "Amos 'n' Andy" for Pepepsodent or "The Story of Mary Marlin" for Kleenex (Applegate, 1994).

1926- NBC established the 1st radio network with six stations.

Young & Rubicam agency created many of radio's most popular programs such as Jack Benny for Jello, "Burns and Allen" "Kate Smith Hour" "Sherlock Homes" and other shows. Y&R hired George Gallup to do surveys of the listening audience (Hebert, 1994).

1920's - an increase in trucking allows chain stores to develop.

1929- 1934 Great Depression.

New Era of Modern Advertising

1941- "With 7,500 TV sets in New York City, NBC begins telecasting July 1. The first TV spots, featuring a Bulova watch ticks for 60 seconds. air as open and close time signals for the day's schedule (Ad Age Timeline)."

World World II- the War Advertising Council -1942 Rosie the Riveter

1948-Television takes off. In 1947 JWT produces the 1st network TV program "The Kraft Television Theater." During the 1950's, TV advertising grew from $40 million to 128 million. At first shows were sponsored and produced by a single sponsor such as the "Texaco Star Theater" with Milton Berle (CC).

1950's -David Ogilvy- appeal to luxury and class status in ads for Rolls Royce and Hathaway Shirt.

rolls royce and hathaway

Rosser Reeves- used the hard sell and ASP (Unique Selling Proposition) to sell Eisenhower in 1952, Anacin the late 1950's and M&Ms in the late 1950's. reeves

The creative revolution in advertising included Doyle Dane Bernbach's ads "Think Small" and "Lemon" for VW.

Leo Burnett who helped to introduce the Marlboro Man (1954), The Jolly Green Giant (1935), the Pillsbury Doughboy, Charlie the Tuna, Morris the Cat, and Tony the Tiger. marlboro

1957- Clairol, Does she...or doesn't she?" by Shirley Polykoff of Foote, Cone & Belding, 1957.

1967 Mary Wells establishes the first woman owned major advertising agency-Wells, Rich, Greene . Writes "plop, plop . . . fizz, fizz" for Alka-Seltzer and the "I Love New York" ads.

1950-1975 Incomes in the US increase 327% and advertising increases by 490%.

1974- Miller Lite beer, "Tastes great, less filling" by McCann-Erickson Worldwide.

1981-Absolut Vodka, The Absolut Bottle by TBWA.

1984 -Apple Computer, "1984" ad by Chiat/Day.

1986- 1988 mergers reshape advertising agencies. Omnicom Group, Saatchi & Saatchi, WPP.

1988- Nike, "Just do it" campaign by Wieden & Kennedy begins.

1993- Advertising on the Internet begins.

Advertising Age Timeline-

American Food Century -

Bendinger, B. et. al. (2001) Advertising & The Business of Brands. Chicago: The Copy Workshop.

Fox, S. (1997)  The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Goodrum, C and Dalrymple, H (1990) Advertising in America : The First 200 Years. NY: Harry N. Abrams.

Heber, Elsie S. (1994)  "Raymond Rubicam", in The Ad Men and Women: a Biographical Dictionary of Advertising, Edd Applegate, eds., Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

The History of Advertising Trust Archive (

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History. The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850 - 1920 (

Keding, M. A. (1994)  Helen Lansdowne Resor. In Applegate,E. (Ed.) The Ad Men and Women: A Biographical Dictionary of Advertising, CN: Greenwood Press, 262-272.

Reeves, R. (1961)  Reality in Advertising. New York: Knopf.

Schulberg, P (1996) Radio Advertising: The Authoritative Handbook, (Lincolnwood, Il: NTC Business Books).

Sivulka, J (1997) Soap, Sex, and Cigarettes: A Cultural History of American Advertising (Wadsworth).

Smith, T.V. (1994) Claude C. Hopkins. In Applegate, E. (Ed.)The Ad Men and Women: A Biographical Dictionary of Advertising Westport,CT: Greenwood Press.

Wells L. M. (2002) A Big Life in Advertising (New York:Knopf).




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