Part One of a History of Paid Advertising

February 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Coaching, Copywriting

A history of paid advertising from American Colonialism to 1950’s

Considering the not so distant past of cigarette and politically incorrect advertising, what will they say about the internet 10 years from now???

Advertising began as ordinary, very dry  print, not any more distinguishing  from the rest of the print found in handbills or gazettes in the 17nth century.  It was simply a description of fact, without any layout, typesetting or graphic, of an article or an event.

As the Industrial Revolution gathered speed in the 18nth century, consumer goods became more varied and sophisticated.  Manufacturers became aware they had to create a “need” for their products.  Advertising became more intricate.  A particularly disturbing type of American advertising in that era can be found in “slave sales” or for the return of escaped slaves.

The 19nth century saw the combination of mixed language and layout that we are familiar with today.  Advertising started to become a skill. Advertising became recognized as a business and advertising agencies that are well known today began their roots. By one commonly used standard, total advertising volume in the United States grew from about $200 million in 1880 to nearly 3 billion in 1920.

Two branches quick to see the advantages in advertising were the politicians and the government.  During times of rationing, the government would display posters of women counting out their bread. These ads were produced to instill fear about rationing.  There were ads to create guilt about enlisting in the services, about hating the enemy, about hating foreigners, promoting xenophobia, spying on your neighbors, and being “All American.”  In looking back at some of the ads from today’s perspective, one could say the government behaved tyrannically.  So advertising had its dark side.

Politicians had been using advertising since recorded history.  Surprise, surprise!!!  With the combination of graphics, they could illustrate comically against the other party.  Going into the 20’s saw some radical new laws affecting campaigning advertising to make the rules more fair, honest, transparent, and cohesive.  Lobbying as we know it today became much more prevalent.  Advertisers saw their advantages in that arena and quickly grabbed on to their market.  The idea of a niche market, branding to a target audience became a theory.  Graphic design as we know it today began to emerge and the first graphic training began.  Part 2 tomorrow.


Sarah Jo Wood is founder of Evolving Advisors Inc. and author of ‘How to turn a No or a Maybe into a Yes!”  Her coaching program teaches entrepreneurs like you to overcome objections so you can sign up all the clients you want, fill your practice, and increase your bottom line.  To begin supercharging your sales, download your complimentary sales package today at

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!