When studying today's advertising industry, it's useful to understand the history of advertising. You can look at the GCSE pages for introductory information and links. Although word of mouth, the most basic (and still the most powerful) form of advertising has been around ever since humans started providing each other with goods and services, Advertising as a discrete form is generally agreed to have begun alongside newspapers, in the seventeenth century. Frenchman Théophraste Renaudot (Louis XIII's official physician) created a very early version of the supermarket noticeboard, a 'bureau des addresses et des rencontres'. Parisians seeking or offering jobs, or wanting to buy or sell goods, put notices at the office on Île de la Cité. So that the maximum number of people had access to this information, Renaudot created La Gazette in 1631, the first French newspaper. The personal ad was born. In England, line advertisements in newspapers were very popular in the second half of the seventeenth century, often announcing the publication of a new book, or the opening of a new play. The Great Fire of London in 1666 was a boost to this type of advertisement, as people used newspapers in the aftermath of the fire to advertise lost & found, and changes of address. These early line ads were predominantly informative, containing descriptive, rather than persuasive language.
Let Them Drink Coffee
Advertisements were of key importance, even at this early point in their history, when it came to informing consumers about new products. Coffee is one such example. Coffee was first brewed into a drink in the Middle East, in the fifteenth century. The Arabs kept the existence of this vivifying concoction a secret,refusing to export beans(or instructions on how to grind and brew them). Legend has it that Sufi Baba Budan smuggled seven beans into India in 1570 and planted them. Coffee then spread to Italy, and throughout Europe, served at coffeehouses. The rapid spread of coffee as both a drink and a pattern of behaviour (coffeehouses became social gathering places) is in no small part due to the advertising of coffee's benefits in newspapers. The ad to the right is the first advertisement in London for coffee, and appeared in 1657 (source: http://www.web-books.com/Classics/ON/B0/B701/15MB701.html). In Modern English, it reads:
In Bartholomew Lane on the back side of the Old Exchange, the drink called Coffee (which is a very wholesome and Physical drink, having many excellent virtues, closes the Orifice of the Stomach, fortifies the heat within, helps Digestion, quickens the Spirits, makes the heart light, is good against Eyesores, Coughs, or Colds, Rheums, Consumptions, Head-ache, Dropsy, Gout, Scurvy, Kings Evil and many others) is to be sold both in the morning and at three o'clock in the afternoon. This early example of advertising copy makes coffee sound like a wonder drug. While the claims in the first half of the sentence may be true (coffee does indeed stave off hunger pangs and 'quicken the Spirits'), the presentation of coffee as a cure-all for specific medical conditions like dropsy, gout and Kings Evil (scrofula - swollen abscesses in the neck) is pure advertising hyperbole. But it worked – people flocked to coffee houses to try this new beverage for themselves, and engendered a caffeine habit that persists in our society today.
Advertising and the Industrial Revolution
When goods were hand made, by local craftsmen, in small quantities, there was no need for advertising. Buyer and seller were personally known to one another, and the buyer was likely to have direct experience of the product. The buyer also had much more contact with the production process, especially for items like clothing (handstitched to fit) and food (assembled from simple, raw ingredients). Packaging and branding were unknown and unnecessary before the Industrial Revolution. Howev-
er, once technological advances enabled...