Whenever we think of the American society, one of the first things that comes to our minds is mass consumerism. And of course this might not be the one and only characteristic of American culture, but capitalism, mass media and globalization has made it one of the most remarkable attributes.
America has the largest economy in the world, which is also market –based, and itspopulation and extension are the third largest. In a country with these characteristics, mass consumerism, publicity and, therefore, advertising, have a very important role.
Publicity and advertising study the culture of the country in order to offer what American society wants and get their attention more effectively. It also has the power to change, more or less, their way of thinking, which is whywe consider advertising such an interesting, yet accurate way to study American culture.
The first printing press arrives in colonial America at Harvard College in 1639. During 1704, the first regularly published newspaper in America appeared: the Boston News-Letter; it contained the first paid advertisement in the colonies. It was an announcement seeking a buyer for anOyster Bay, Long Island, estate. It contained just plain text and no images.
It was not until 1741 when the first magazine advertisement appeared, in Benjamin Franklin’s General Magazine, a publication that included pages of "new advertisements”, which started featuring images, mostly drawings.
In 1834, after the first photographs appeared and America was an independent country, the very firstadvertising agency was established. Its founder was Volney B. Palmer, and his homonymous agency, sold for the first time a newspaper space in Philadelphia.
Volney Palmer was the first man who had the idea of offering previously written advertisements. He was then followed by Mathilde C. Weil, the J. Walter Thompson and Lord & Thomas (later Foote Cone & Belding), which were the nextadvertising agencies that opened for business. The first convention of advertising agents was held in New York in 1873.
Moreover, the first federal trademark protection law was enacted, encouraging the use of advertised commercial symbols (©, ®, ™).
Selling the Goods (1880-1900)
During the last decades of the 19th century, many inventions helped developing advertising in America. The invention ofthe streetlights, the first skyscraper (John W. Root’s Montrauk building, Chicago, 1884) and the half-tone screen process that made picture printing practical for general use by advertisers since 1885, the first moving picture, among other inventions, meant that new resources could be used by advertisers.
By 1890, the population of the United States reached 63 millions, which meant not only agrowth in the population, but also an increasing market that could be approached by advertisers.
In 1882, Procter & Gamble Co. begins advertising Ivory soap with an unprecedented budget of $11,000., which shows how publicity was becoming more and more important for marketing.
The first full-page color advertisement appeared in the American periodical Youth’s Companion. During the same year,Coca Cola was registered as trademark.
Frank Munsey dropped the price of Munsey's Magazine in 1893 to 10¢ and the cost of subscriptions to $1, marking the first attempt at keeping a magazine afloat by advertising revenue rather than newsstand sales.
In 1896, Guglielmo Marconi sent the first wireless message across America. The federal government inaugurated rural free delivery, boosting directand mail-order selling.
N.W. Ayer helped National Biscuit Co. launch the first prepackaged biscuit, with the slogan "Lest you forget, we say it yet, Uneeda Biscuit." Later, they launched the first million-dollar advertising campaign for Uneeda.
The Rise of a Consumer Economy(1900-WW1)
The Association of American Advertisers, predecessor to the Association of National Advertisers, was...