Advertising through the Ages

We are all aware of advertising. It is a form of marketing communication to inform the audience about a product or brand. Advertising is an effort to persuade the audience and win their trust on the particular brand.

Advertising uses various mediums, such as-
• Print Media (newspapers, magazines)
• Television spots
• Radio
• Outdoor signage and billboards
• Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.)
• Websites
• Direct emailer campaigns
• Blogs


A brand’s success depends on its visibility and how the consumers accept it. Advertising brings the brands message and usability to the prospective buyers. The advertising messages highlight the unique qualities of a brand. Let us go back in history and explore how advertising progressed through the times, till today.

Edward Louis James Bernays is considered the pioneer of ‘propaganda’ and later he came out with the term ‘Public Relations’. He combined individual and social psychology to construct a public opinion. Bernay’s referred to this process as “engineering of consent”.

Thomas J. Barratt is known as the ‘father of modern advertising’. He was the chairman of A&F Pears Company, which produced and sold its transparent soap in the year 1807. He implemented some pioneering and systematic methods in advertising the Pears soap. He combined slogans and images to popularize brand Pears. Barratt believed in creating an exclusive brand image. He always studied the sentiments of the market to come up with new and innovative advertising.

Advertising in the 1920s

By the 20s, due to mass production of consumer goods, the trend of mass marketing started to flourish. The average income of people was rising steadily and the economy looked good and the buying power of populace increased. Brands started advertising in newspapers and magazines and gave the prospective buyers more options.
With the popularity of print media and the launch of TIME magazine (first weekly magazine in the U.S.) in 1923, by Henry Robinson Luce and Briton Hadden, saw the advent of a new style of publication. Radio also emerged as the preferred medium for mass communication. During this time, the toll model was introduced and paid broadcasts started. This became the supported medium for advertising agencies, which became part of the program development process.

Advertising in the1950s

During this time, apart from the traditional media, such as radio, newspapers and magazines, the television caught the fancy of many advertisers. Advertising and consumerism saw meteoric rise during this period. Many appliances like fridge, automobiles and also clothes fueled the growth in manufacturing. With continuous innovation, improved products were launched to cater to the demands of consumers.

The housing boom and urbanization in the U.S. increased the demand for household appliances considerably. Advertising also started focusing on family values their campaigns targeted different demographics and age groups. As television was becoming popular, advertising agencies produced television shows and the programs promoted the sponsor’s name. Motivational research too emerged to analyze the consumers buying habits and to understand their opinions about brands.

Advertising in the 1960s

There were many transformations during this age advertising became more television friendly. The cultural and social changes prompted innovation and creativity. Also known as the era of ‘new advertising’, saw many new ideas being implemented to convey a brand’s message and create a new type of brand identity. This appealed to the growing consumer movement and this was the age of a creative revolution.
New age advertising used humor to win over the consumers. One of the most successful advertising campaigns was launched during this time by Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), to promote the Volkswagen’s Beetle in the U.S. Catchy slogans also became very popular during this time and may renowned brands came up with slogans, which are still popular (e.g. Avis’ “We try harder” and Esso’s “Put a tiger in your tank”). Publications also saw innovative changes and the idea of giving a distinct image to a brand became popular.

Advertising in the 1980s

Large advertising agencies were the norm, with many opening branches worldwide. With the advent of Cable television the television industry got a new look. Many channels were broadcasted and there was increase in viewership as television was a popular household item. The space and scope for advertising grew and the percentage share of advertising spends saw a massive increase.
Cable television made advertising campaigns global. They were beamed across the globe and brands gained more popularity. Brands now became international.

Advertising in the 1990s

The internet changed the scenario of advertising. It helped grow the mass media base and consumers were given more choice and control. Consumers could now interact and source information about a brand from mass media. Advertising campaigns became more interactive and sophisticated.

Advertising agencies had to adjust to the new trend and transformed themselves to better serve their clients. This was the time when integrated marketing services were introduced. The Internet grew by leaps and bounds, as personal computers became ubiquitous. This empowered the consumers to buy at their own will and according to their choice. E-commerce sites started offering a variety of products and competition grew. The Internet changed the face of consumerism and advertising.

Here is a short video, which will give you a perspective about the evolution of advertising in a minute.

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