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History of advertising (I)

In our blog we usually share a lot of information about the latest news on Google Ads, how to make a complete strategy for an e-commerce, tips to improve SEO and much more (if you haven't read any of our previous posts, I invite you to do so!).

However, it would be impossible to talk about internet advertising if it had not been for the events and protagonists who, throughout history, have been defining and shaping what our profession is today. Next, we will review the most important milestones. If you are interested in the topic, stay and read it 🙂 .

Before we begin, we should know that there are several interpretations about when advertising and the different events related to it have existed: the first of them says that "advertising exists as soon as one person wants to influence another".. With this interpretation, the first reference would be 3000 years ago, when a papyrus found in Egypt (and now kept by the British Museum) read "where the most beautiful fabrics are woven to the taste of each one".

The second interpretation dates back to 1711, when it is argued that "there can be no advertising until there is no written media". During the Industrial Revolution, companies were born that wanted to influence others by means of writing, and in that year the advertising rate was born. Finally, there are those who argue that advertising really began "when the mass media were developed", according to which we could not speak of advertising until the last century.

From Greece and Rome to the Middle Ages

Ya in the Ancient Ages we find antecedents of what today we would call "corporate visual identity". There were written claims (images) that were placed in front of the stores, informing those who passed by what they could find (a bakery, a tavern, etc.). Although this was not the only way to reach the public: peddlers and merchants also used to advertise in the streets what kind of products could be purchased in each establishment.

In fact, quite a few centuries later, in the Middle Ages, the figure of town criers and charlatans would be created.which would have this same function, among others. Returning to the written claims, in the Ancient Age we also find the first antecedents of the poster:

  • Graffiti: They were pThe graffiti was painted by citizens on the walls to advertise something (a tavern, for example). Here is an example of a political graffiti that appeared in Pompeii.
  • XylographyThe engravings are engravings on wooden plates that were inked for quick reproduction.
  • AlbaThey were elongated papyrus that were placed on the wall, if they were small, they were distributed as leaflets. There was a specific category to advertise theater, circus or wrestling.

The Modern Age

We landed directly in the era in which advertising as we conceive it today was born. There were 3 major events that made it possible.

  1. Diffusion of printing: It favors dissemination through the written media.
  2. The Spectator: This is the first newspaper to discover that its costs are lowered if it introduces advertising.
  3. The advertising rate is bornIn 1711, it was born and publishers were able to finance their newspapers.

We are in the midst of the Industrial RevolutionAt a time of increasing production and demand, when the media undergoes a great development and freedom of expression is actively fought for. In the midst of this cocktail, the advertising profession was born.

Birth of advertising agencies

In the middle of the the first advertising agencies were created in the 19th century in parallel in the USA and France. In 1841, Volney B. Palmer was born in Philadelphia, and with it the figure of the ad broker. He contracted advertising space and made it available to companies, taking 25 % of the commission. In only 20 years it was already present in more than 20 U.S. cities and had the exclusivity of the most important media.

Pioneers of modern advertising

There are several names that represented a before and after, since they contributed ideas that are today the basis of the profession:

  • Albert B. Lasker: Attracts customers through the figure of the copywriter.
  • John E. KennedyThe philosophy of the Reason Why.
  • Claude HopkinsPioneer in the marketing-mix.
  • Stanley Resor: Advocates the importance of research and teamwork.
  • Raymond Rubicam: Note the need for a good design.
  • Edward L. BernaysLink products to emotions, turn mind analytics into an industry.

Golden Age

We arrived at the boom of advertising. In the previous century the foundations of advertising as an activity and profession had been laid, but it would be in the 20th century when advertising would know its golden age, and there are several reasons for this: To begin with, it was a time of economic prosperity, especially in capitalist countries: the middle social class grew and the consumer and leisure society developed.

The media evolved and television appeared in the 1950s, and advertising became the main source of financing for TV channels. During this period we find campaigns and advertisers that would become part of the history of advertising: The publicist David Ogilvy (1911-1999), considered the father of advertising, created the advertising strategy called "know it all" in which he researched the habits of consumers and provided all the information about the product to the consumer. In the following example we see a Rolls-Royce ad from 1959.

In 13 points Ogilvy unpacks all the car's features:

The opposite of what Leo Burnett did at the Madison Avenue agency: he advocated that messages had to be ethical and credible and that emotionality was key, he wanted the consumer to empathize with the product. With this style, he created many global icons for brands that, after 50 years, are still in use. Here are some examples: So much for this review of the first part of advertising history.

In the coming weeks we will publish a post focused exclusively on the history of online advertising. We hope you found it interesting and stay tuned for the next one, let us know in the comments what you thought of it!


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