Advertising Of 1890 Compared To 1990

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Modern advertising really began in the middle of the century. World War II had taught Americans plenty about propaganda and new technologies had erupted, offering both increased production and more ways to propagate a media message. They combined to create the modern ad. In addition to stating the facts somewhere in the fine print, advertisers began to lace their ads with ideas designed to appeal to the senses of the reader, as well as the deeper, more emotional self interests of love, sex, anxiety, fear, alarm, ambition, envy, indulgence and especially vanity. And to discover which appeal would work best, advertisers began to develop more and better research techniques -- and act upon the results. Someday, they'd call it "target marketing," but for now, they were content with being able to select the right message to transmit and then aim it at the right receiver in the market. What sounds obvious now was in fact not recognized in the 19th century. Advertising was a print medium at first, and primarily followed the basic rules of decorum and factual reporting of the journalism of the day. Thus, a Sears And Roebuck catalogue from the 19th century offered Underwear For Fat Men with a line drawing a hefty, older fellow with a distended belly trying on a pair of longjohns (Sears & Roebuck, 1879, p. 6). In addition to such straightforward advertising, there were rules which limited the effectiveness of print advertising as a visual medium in many venues. Ads were kept in the back in the early 19th century, and only moved across to the front of magazines and newspapers in the 1890s. Line drawings and other artwork was introduced, but the copy remained relatively staid and straightforward. Print advertising today is far different. Incredible graphics, manipulative copy and inserts, [email protected] (ads disguised as articles) and coupons make up the bulk of newspaper and magazine advertising. Of course, the old style of print ads remain as well. There are still classified ads in the back of nearly every magazine, and line drawings grace the ads in many newspapers. Nobody sells Aunderwear for fat [email protected] any more though. Bills, or bulletins, are also still common in the 1990s. Most urban centers have huge sections of walls and public space taken over by row after row of bills, huge print ads. In these days of media saturation, it is not surprising to see many layers of bulletins atop a wall or on a construction site. Bulletins were started in the 1890s as well. ARagged bills hawking everything from Tutts Pills and St. Jacob=s Oil to Battle Ax Plug, Hood=s Sasparilla, and Official Five Cent Cigars fluttered from every fence, lamppost and [email protected] (Starr and Hayman, p. 25). In both centuries, bulletins are most often [email protected] or posted up without the permission of property owners. The final form of outdoor advertising is the billboard or display. Displays are three-dimensional, huge mockups of products or events. The first billboards were painted bulletins, permanently covering the side of a building and often identifying the businesses within. Later, around the end of the 19th century when most major cities had electricity to spare, these billboards were lighted so that they would be visible at night. It wasn=t long before the [email protected] was born. Spectaculars are bright, lighted billboards made of many bulbs (the slogan or logo is often spelled out in light) which often contains some three-dimensional elements. The first spectaculars debuted at the end of the 19th century, along with the first lighted marquees. At the end of the 20th century, spectaculars have become even more important, becoming landmarks in places like New York City and Las Vegas. However, outside of the landmark status of some spectaculars, outdoor advertising is very limited. The largest differences between the advertising of the 1890s and the 1990s are the sheer number of media available and what can be called the culture of [email protected] The 1990s has radio, television, ads before motion pictures and videotapes, Internet advertising of various types (email [email protected] banner ads), direct mail advertising, blimps and cropdusters to add to the arsenal of outdoor advertisement and concentrated target marketing. More important than the available media is the net effect of advertising. Advertising is now totalizing, both the dominant culture and counterculture are appealed to. Instead of simply announcing the existence of a product, advertising works to create a culture of consumption for ever

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