A Brief History Of Advertising

In many ways, the advertising industry has remained the same – our job today, as it’s always been, is to come up with ideas that can transform the fortunes of a business.

What has changed is the opportunity – the opportunity to do many more things.

There is now an abundance of ways companies are able to reach consumers and consumers are able to experience brands. There’s never been a more exciting time to work in advertising.

The number of devices connected to the internet exceeds world population. Major social media sites have launched and developed advertising platforms. Advertisers need people who can craft digital experiences for brands to make the most of this new media landscape.

Rapid advancements in data recording and storage technology spark an explosion in the quantity of available and potentially relevant data. The term ‘big data’ is coined. Advertisers now need people who are able to analyse massive amounts of data to discover new relationships, spot emerging trends and patterns.

The first time a copywriter is paired with an art director. The idea was pioneered by Bill Bernbach, one of the most influential people in advertising history. Bernbach’s revolutionary ideas about creativity and his keen insights into human nature gave birth to modern advertising. He was a major force behind the creative revolution of the 60s and 70s.

The 1950s were the golden age of psychologists’ involvement in advertising. Throughout the 1950s, advertising agencies relied upon psychologists and other behavioural experts to help construct their ad campaigns.

The first official, paid television advert was broadcast in the United States. Adverts could now be broadcast with sight, sound and motion.

The US stock market crashes and sparks The Great Depression in the UK. Ad budgets take a nosedive. Massive budget cuts force the industry to reinvent itself to improve effectiveness. The industry brings in researchers to better understand what makes people tick.

The first paid radio advert aired on WEAF of New York. For the first time advertising could be heard, not just seen. The ‘jingle’ was born.

James ‘Jem’ White, an English advertising agent, realised it would be easier to sell space in newspapers if he could also design and write ads for clients. The first creative agency was born. Though the idea of the full-service agency employing full-time creatives didn’t evolve until the late 19th century.

If you’ve watched Mad Men, you might think that advertising agencies are a US invention. But that’s not true. In 1786, a London office was the first to sell ads for printers who had launched newspapers to promote their trade. These middlemen advised on suitable publications, ensured ads were correctly placed and chased payments.