How It All Began – the birth of visual communication

While radio was marking its place in American households, inventors were attempting to transfer a radio broadcast into an image based media. San Francisco was the home to the first image-based media in 1927. The SF History Center provides us with a little insight in Philo T Farnsworth and his television. At 14 he envisioned a television screen as lines of a picture that when pieced together would form a visual image. For the next seven years he would think of nothing else. He finally found small financial backing and then the real work began. He knew he had succeeded when he was able to transfer an image from one room to the other; however, he was a long way from a product that was actually marketable. Unfortunately Farnsworth would not financially benefit from his idea. It wasn’t until 2002 that he was finally recognized as “the inventor of electric television.”

Now that America had an actual television, it needed a television station. In 1928, W3XK was aired in Washington, DC. It wasn’t until 1932 that the station had regular programming. Television manufacturers were a long way from selling their product to households. It was one thing to have a product and a station from which programs could be aired, and another to make the product affordable for American households. GE designed a television with a three inch screen and had every intention to make it available to the public. They quickly changed their minds realizing America could not afford their sets and it was just not to the quality the company wanted to be branded for. Companies and individuals spent the next 10 years trying to get the design right and affordable for America.

At the 1939 New York World’s Fair President Franklin Roosevelt made a live broadcast from NBC’s station (W2XBS). New York World’s Fair President Franklin Roosevelt made a live broadcast from NBC’s station The next few years CBS, WNBC, and WCBS would follow suit. By 1946 the war is over, and six television stations are regularly on air, with more to follow. Looks like America has another viral media on its hands. After the war, American television exploded. News broadcasts occurred daily, sitcoms and cartoons were taped and aired almost immediately. There was a new advertising media in America and businesses wanted their piece of it. The first legal television commercial occurred in July 1941 for Bulova watches. Bulova paid $9 for its 10 second commercial.

Like radio, television shaped the way American businesses communicated to consumers. By the 1950s two-thirds of America’s households had a television. Families referenced the TV Guide looking for their favorite program. The relationship between TV Guide and the television is a perfect example of print advertising and electronic media working together to build company branding.

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How It All Began – the birth of electronic advertising

Today we see the benefit of mixing all advertising mediums. Especially with the popularity of social media businesses are realizing that print, electronic, and social all go hand-in-hand to build their brand and essentially drive up revenues. However, in the 1900s when radio and television came to be, the print advertising world saw the electronic advertisers as competition. Later in the 1900s advertising was bombarded with good and bad propaganda. Politics and medicine became the advertising headliners. Consumers were assaulted with corrupt marketing messages. Amongst all the corruption stood the ethical printers and advertisers – they struggled to use advertising as a positive marketing method against the negatives of those companies that printed anything to get their publication in front of consumers. 1900s medicinal salesman ad

As print advertisers continued to try and change their image into one that reputable businesses would use, the electronic media gave a voice to America. The first radio advertising broadcast occurred on November 2, 1920, at which time KDKA Pittsburgh announced the 1920 presidential election results. Radio advertising slowed during the Great Depression but shortly after the end of World War II radio began to grow substantially. As a matter of fact, by 1938 radio had surpassed magazines in advertising generated revenues. As the radio found its foothold in American households it became the primary source of entertainment. Radio wasn’t just for advertising or for announcements. As the dynamics of the American family changed and grew with the times it became necessary for companies to advertise household goods and services to their radio audiences. The household goods and services market experienced substantial growth from their radio advertisements. Companies proved that electronic advertising worked.

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How It All Began – print advertising gains traction

Now that print advertising was gaining traction government agencies began regulating the print industry. Advertising agencies were opening throughout cities offering their expertise in marketing a wide range of products and services. Advertisers had a long way to go to convince America’s businesses that they needed to advertise.  In April 1873 the first advertiser’s convention was held in New York City. Agency leaders assembled to discuss foreseen issues in the current print advertising industry. Interestingly some of those same issues still exist in the industry.  The relationship between printers and advertising agents was more clearly defined and neither party could intentionally hurt the other both financially or by reputation defamation. With government regulation and government agencies gearing up, so did government taxes. Quickly the government realized the revenue stream available to an industry that would forever change American small business.

The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and businesses were scrambling to find the best method to reach their consumers, wholesalers, and retailers. Businesses could no longer advertise to just the wealthy or financially sound consumer. Competition was becoming aggressive so businesses had to widen their target audience and thus the household product marketing was launched to reach all income levels.

Why would P&G pay $11,000 to market one product in the 1800s?

Procter & Gamble began their advertising campaign for their Ivory Soap with a substantial $11,000 budget. “It revolutionized the world of branding, marketing and advertising, with pioneering methods that are still used today.”  Amongst several pieces to the P&G marketing effort was the product packaging for their multipurpose soap. Soap sells first began by cutting blocks of the soap off a larger block, wrapping it in brown paper, and handing it directly to the consumer. P&G 1900s  Ivory Soap Now that printing on paper was a necessity and becoming common practice, P&G took a gamble and printed a simple design on white paper and began packing their product for mass usage. The majority of the $11,000 was spent on product packaging. The gamble paid off.

Typography becomes important

Although newspapers were filled with advertisements for everything from political views to a local farmer selling his goods or livestock; businesses continued plastering posters on buildings and fences to ensure they found their customers. As print advertising gained popularity newspaper advertising space became limited so marketers learned quickly how to pack their ads with repetitious phrases and names. In order to set businesses apart from the competition and maximize print advertising typeface became an important feature. A business had to look different to catch the buyer’s attention. We began learning how layout and typeface changes the minds of the reader.

Subsequent to the Federal Trade Act’s passing in 1914, advertising became a tool for businesses to reach its consumers in more than one method.  Print advertising gained speed through the 1900s and quickly spread to radio and thereafter television media.  This began the marketing process of interlinking print advertising with electronic advertising.

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