Everything you need to know about the history of advertising. Concrete advertising history begins with classified advertising. Advertising in the beginning was mainly for informative purposes rather than promotional reasons.
India’s advertising industry is no more than eight decades old. At the turn of the century, British firms in India mostly imported their products but later began to manufacture them here. They were the first to make use of advertising for marketing purpose.
But the advertisements were mostly replicas of those used in the home country. Later, these firm opened advertising agencies in India.
This gave an opportunity to their Indian staff to get training and set up their own establishment in due course. B. Dattaram & Co. claimed as the oldest agency in the advertising circuit in India, which was established in 1905.
The first advertisements appeared in the Hickely’s Bengal Gazette, India’s first newspaper, a weekly magazine. In 1912, ITC, the giant tobacco company, launched Gold Flake.
Learn about the history of advertising.
Additionally, also learn about the chronological significant events in the advertising history of India, growth of Indian advertising history and the impact of advertising.
Learn about the History of Advertising in India
History of Advertising – How it all Began: From 17th Century to Present Times
Advertising is known to have existed in one form or the other ever since goods were available for popular consumption and the concept dates back to as many as 3000 years before Christ.
(1) Most of the advertising was oral. Street criers and “barkers” strode through ancient streets, making public announcements about their goods! Ancient Rome, Athens. London and the early American colonies saw criers promoting goods as varied as beauty remedies, fish and dairy products.
(2) Signs on shop doorways were another way of representing goods. They were a symbol of each seller’s wares and were developed for those unable to read. For example, a goat on a sign in Rome meant a dairy, a mule driving a mill meant a bakery shop, and a spinning wheel meant a weaver. A system of brand and trademark differentiation as it exists today, had its roots in this period.
(3) Advertising was really launched by the ancient Babylonians, who had a reputation for being materialistic. Some of them even prepared “institutional” advertising campaigns for their kings. They stenciled the bricks used to build temples, with letters announcing the name of the temple and the king who built it.
(4) However, advertising in its written form began with the Romans, when they began spreading literacy around the world. It started with public announcements on town walls.
The Dark Ages, which followed the defeat of the Roman empire in the fifth century, was a brief period of gloom for advertising and commerce in general. By the end of the fifteenth century, advertising regained its glory. Sign making became an art and eye-catching graphics were being created.
I. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries:
In the early seventeenth century, an important new medium of advertising, the newspaper, was invented in England. This saw the beginning of newspaper advertising on a large scale. The advertising industry in general continued to flourish.
Newspaper advertising in America first appeared at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Around this time, Benjamin Franklin, often considered to be the father of American advertising, began publishing the “Pennsylvania Gazette”. Soon this became the largest circulating paper in America, with the largest advertising volume of any paper. It contained advertisement for products such as books, wine, tea, chocolate and other commodities.
Benjamin Franklin is also credited for making important innovations in newspaper advertising. He was a copywriter, advertising manager, salesman, publisher and editor, all rolled into one.
By the end of the eighteenth century, there were over a hundred local newspapers in the United States.
II. The Nineteenth Century and the Industrial Revolution:
The boom in newspaper advertising continued into the nineteenth century. Early American ads were classified as personal ads-wives looking for wandering husbands, owners searching for runaway slaves, householders seeking servants! There were also ads for popular medicines and tobacco. Along with newspapers, advertisers started using leaflets and brochures as well.
Next came the introduction of another big future medium of advertising- magazines-in the early nineteenth century.
The middle of the nineteenth century was the period when advertising became big business, especially in America. This was the period before the civil war. The Industrial Revolution made labour and capital more productive and provided a plethora of goods for sale at reasonable prices.
The first advertising agency also emerged during this period.
The Early Advertising Agency:
It started as a one-man advertising agent, his job was to seek business from advertisers, send the content of the ad copy to the newspaper, and collect the charges. In return for all the advertising placed, he would keep 25% commission which gradually came down to 15%, due to competition from other agents. The 15% commission represents the present day system of compensation for advertising agencies.
The early concept of the ad agency was soon refined, one agent discovered that he could sell more to advertisers if he offered to prepare the ad copy himself. Soon, other agents followed suit, and the first advertising copywriters emerged.
One American agent, named George P. Rowell, started a new trend. He bought up blocks of space from newspapers on annual contracts and then sold it to advertisers for a low bulk rate. Again, other agents followed suit. Agents now began to play the role of consultants. The enterprising agent would buy a block of newspaper or magazine pages at a 15 per cent discount. If he succeeded in selling them to potential advertisers, he got his money back, plus a 15 per cent commission.
Soon the early agents literally taught their clients how to advertise, thought up their slogans, designed their trademarks, and so on. This extension of services gradually gave rise to the full-fledged advertising agency, as it exists today- “Planning, Preparing and Placing complete advertising campaigns for clients”.
Important Personalities in the Agency Business:
F. Wayland Ayer was an advertising pioneer who founded the N.W. Ayer & Son agency in 1869. He made significant changes in client-agency relationships. His agency was the forerunner of the modern general advertising agency.
Albert Lasker, head of the agency Lord & Thomas, was the driving force in developing national advertising in its modern form.
The Lord & Thomas agency was built around the copywriting function, with the help of two of the greatest writers of all time-John E. Kennedy and Claude C. Hopkins. Hopkins is the father of “reason-why” copy.
J. Walter Thompson, head of the famous agency by that name, was the first to introduce ethical standards in the industry during this period. His personal distaste for alcohol and tobacco for example, kept his agency from accepting such business for many years, even after his death. Thompson also placed strong emphasis on women as important consumers and persuaded women’s and general magazines to open their pages to advertising.
A noted historian summed up the role of the early agency as follows – “The advertising agency came into existence because the ignorance of both publisher and advertiser, together with their genuine economic need for assistance, presented an opportunity for profit. The agency facilitated the purchase and sale of space… In a larger sense however, the agency’s chief service in this early period was to promote the general use of advertising, and thus to aid in discovering cheaper and more effective ways of marketing goods.”
III. The Early Twentieth Century:
Having grown in stature, advertising in the early twentieth century developed some distinctive styles of its own.
The first was the soft-sell approach. This was characterised by subtle ads with a literary style and attention to form colour and visualisation. This gave emphasis on the peripheral route to persuade the audience about the product or service advertised.
The second was hard-sell approach, derived from the definition of advertising by the most famous copywriter of all time – John E. Kennedy. Kennedy, during his meeting with the other great adman of the era-Albert Lasker (later president of the agency Lord & Thomas) defined advertising as “salesmanship in print”.
As this definition necessitated explaining a concrete “reason-why” for a product’s superiority, an approach based on this was termed hard-sell. A logical argument was the basis on which audience could be persuaded to form a positive attitude towards the advertised product or service.
One or the other of these two styles dominated the advertising scene during different periods.
The outbreak of World War I saw the peaceful co-existence of both styles. While hard-sell or reason-why copy offered an explanation for the war, the soft-sell approach kept the name of defense goods manufacturers before the public.
This period was a Golden Age in advertising history. The post war years, in particular, saw the increased use of advertising to promote new products which promised an improved standard of life for consumers.
On the agency side, J. Walter Thompson led the advertising boom with a variety of new services. He tried to base advertising on psychology and research, and thereby elevated it to the status of a science. This led to a conflict between ‘creative’ and ‘research’, which has continued upon the present day. While creative appeals emphasised on unique and dramatic presentation of advertised product or service, ‘Research’ had its roots in the expectations of the target customers. The debate as to what approach to follow, continues even today.
In spite of this, the 1920’s particular, were undoubtedly the period of advertising’s greatest prosperity. This period was aptly summed up by the title of the famous trade journal “Advertising Age”, launched at the end of the decade.
By 1920, the advertisement agencies started planning campaigns. In 1917, American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) was founded. In the early part of the century, advertising forms underwent a metamorphosis. Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) was founded in 1914.
(a) The Depression Years:
As depression followed boom in the 1930’s, pessimism reigned in the advertising industry. The volume of advertising dropped drastically and ad agencies began the hard task of cutting personnel and services.
Advertising was criticised for promoting waste in a period of economic crisis. The consumerist movement gained momentum during this time, in an effort to curb advertising.
However, there were some positive developments as well, during this period of general crisis, the man who stood out in the Depression decade was Raymond Rubicam (head of the famous agency Young & Rubicam, now in India as Rediffusion Dentsu, Young & Rubicam). He departed from the hard sell, reason-why approach by favouring indirect persuasion and well-crafted, visually attractive ads. He moulded Young & Rubicam into a creative agency, giving creative controls to artists and copywriters.
The advertising agency also became more research-oriented, largely due to the pioneering efforts of George Gallop, of the Gallop poll fame.
Finally, radio emerged as a popular advertising medium, following newspapers and magazines. In spite of the depression, advertising survived and even flourished through the new medium of radio.
(b) World War II and after:
The World War II, saw a total drop in advertising expenditure. Patriotic themes replaced product claims and emphasis was laid on products such as tanks, planes, and weapons, rather than toothpaste and cosmetics. A War Advertising Council was established to prepare such campaigns and to aid the war effort.
The following years, and particularly the decade of the 1950’s was another “golden age” for advertising, thanks to the emergence of television.
Television became the hot new mass medium in 1949. It was particularly suited for products that required demonstration. Radio lost its dominance as a national medium. Advertising expenditure in general, and on television in particular, sky-rocked. Gross advertising grew faster than the growth in gross national product.
The advertising agency business expanded alongside. The J. Walter Thompson agency expanded overseas. This marked the beginning of the globalization of advertising. Merchandising, including product development, packing and distribution assumed an important role in the agency.
During this period, advertising practitioners discovered a new tool to help develop and measure the success of their messages-research. A new type of research, called “Motivation” or “Qualitative research” emerged, indicating the increasing use of psychology in advertising.
Rosser Reeves, the most influential theoretician of how advertising works, invented the concept of the “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP). He advocated that every ad should contain a promise of a unique benefit which is relevant to the consumer, which is different from the competitor. The USP concept is popular even today.
(c) The Creative Revolution (1960-1970):
As a period of recession set in from 1959 to 1961, the time seemed ripe for some innovation in the advertising industry.
Three outstanding personalities of this decade-Leo Burnett, David Ogilvy and William Bernbach spearheaded a creative revolution in advertising. Leo Burnett declared that agencies revolved around “the men with the pencils or the copywriters”. He laid emphasis on the common man and held that ads are made to be viewed by common man and thus should be developed keeping his level of understanding and motivation.
David Ogilvy attempted to reconcile the two great schools of advertising- hard-sell and soft-sell, with his Rolls-Royce campaign which clubbed “claim” and “image” together. He also set down specific rules for making ads, like including the brand name in the headline, avoiding analogies and superlatives. Bernbach hired people with no advertising background and also promoted the integration of art and copy.
His emphasis was on the execution of the ad. He believed that how you is important as what you say through an advertisement. The three great admen brought about a revolution in the advertisement world. Their contributions to the field of advertising are the source of guidance to the present day advertising professionals also.
The Ad that Ushered in the Creative Revolution:
A single ad appeared during this time that changed the course of advertising history. It was for the Volkswagon, a seemingly unattractive car. The ad violated all the existing ideas about car advertising at that time. It had no wide-angle photography or beautiful women. Just the ugly little car sitting there with the headline “Lemon” underneath (Lemon refers to an unsatisfactory or defective thing, especially a car). The text of the ad explained this negative headline;
This particular Volkswagon was a “lemon” because a quality-control Inspector noticed a blemished chrome strip on the glove compartment, and no Volkswagon leaves the factory with even such a tiny defect. Highlighting a defective car represented a totally new kind of advertising.
This ad was created by William Bernbach of the Doyle, Dane & Bernach agency that was responsible for the creative revolution of the 1960’s. The creative people of this agency had no formal education in advertising. They came from ordinary backgrounds but could talk to consumers in a language they would understand.
Advertising agencies blossomed with the above kind of “creative advertising” in the 1960’s.
(d) The Positioning Era (1970-1980):
The seventies witnessed another economic recession. Advertising expenditures were slashed. The era of creativity gave way to an emphasis on science and research to measure the effectiveness of advertising. Ads began to lose their creative edge and returned to a hard-sell approach.
However, the introduction of the concept of positioning was the most significant development of this time. In 1972 Advertising Age carried an article “The positioning era cometh” by AI Ries and Jack Trout. The authors believed that competing in a tougher marketplace required advertisers to follow a strategy of “positioning”, What positioning meant was to differentiate the product from the competition in the mind of the prospect. An examples of successful positioning of time Ries and Trout offered the “Seven-Up, the “uncola” campaign and the Avis car rental “We’re #2” campaign.
(e) The Era of Accountability (1980 to the Present Day):
Since the 1980’s, there has been pressure on advertising to become more socially accountable and responsible. There has been an increasing need for more truth in advertising and for regulation of advertising. In the U.S., for example, the hotly debated issue of cigarette advertising has led to the establishment of regulatory bodies to examine the truthfulness of ads. Self-regulation by the industry is another development.
History of Advertising – Advertising in India: Chronological Significant Events in the Advertising History of India, Growth of Indian Advertising History and Impact of Advertising
“Advertising, a form of commercial mass communication designed to promote the sale of a product or service, or a message on behalf of an institution, organization, or candidate for political office.”
Advertising can be looked at from various perspectives. As the quote above states, its purpose is to increase the number of articles or products sold. These are not only things we can buy in different stores, for example clothing or supplies for our daily life, but also such simple things as a message placed by an institution or organization asking for attention of the public to raise money or to make them aware of a problem, such as anti-smoking ads. Even political parties use advertisements and commercials to state the opinion of their candidate.
Advertising became big business in the 20th century, offering many different jobs in advertising agencies and the marketing section. The use of the media, like newspapers, television, direct mail, radio, magazines, outdoor signs and of course the Internet made this growth possible. It is a form of transporting information to the consumer, but which does not only have positive sides.
There are many critical aspects about it, like persuading people to doing unhealthy things, like smoking, or producing special stereotypes everybody tries to follow. Nevertheless, advertising has become international, since producers and companies try to sell their products on a globalized market in almost every corner of the world.
A sophisticated and professional industry called Indian Advertising starts with the hawkers calling out their wares right from the days when cities and markets first began shop front signages, from street side sellers to press ads.
Concrete advertising history begins with classified advertising in 18th century in India. Ads appear for the first time.in print in Hickey’s Bengal Gazette, India’s first newspaper (weekly).
Studios mark the beginning of advertising created in India (as opposed to imported from England) The first brand as we know them today were a category of advertisers. Horlicks becomes the first ‘malted milk’ to be patented on 5th June 1883 (No. 278967).
A chronological significant events in the advertising history in India is given below:
1. The 1900s:
1905 – B. Dattaram & Co. claims to be the oldest existing Indian agency in Girgaum in Bombay
1912 – ITC (then Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd.) launches Gold Flake
(i) Enter the first foreign owned ad agencies
(ii) Gujarat Advertising and Indian Advertising set up
(iii) Expatriate agencies emerge- Alliance Advertising, Tata Publicity
(iv) LA Stronach’s merges into today’s Norvicson Advertising
(v) D J Keymer gives rise to Ogilvy & Mather and Clarion
1925 – LR Swami & Co., Madras
(i) LA Stronach & Co. (India) Pvt. Ltd., Bombay starts
(ii) Agency called National set up for American rather than British advertisers
(iii) American importers hire Jagan Nath Jaini, then advertising manager of Civil and Military Gazette, Lahore. National today is still run by Jaini’s family
(iv) Beginning of multinational agencies
(v) J Walter Thompson (JWT) opened to service General Motors business
1928 – BOMAS Ltd. (Formerly DJ Keymer & Co. Ltd.,) set up
1929 – J Walter Thompson Co. Pvt. Ltd., formed
(i) National Advertising Service Pvt. Ltd., Bombay set up
(ii) Universal Publicity Co., Calcutta formed
1934 – Venkatrao Sista opens Sista Advertising and Publicity Services as first full service Indian agency
1935 – Indian Publicity Bureau Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta established
(i) Krishna Publicity Co. Pvt. Ltd., Kanpur begins operations
(ii) Studio Ratan Batra Pvt. Ltd., Bombay established
(iii) Indian Broadcasting Company becomes All India Radio (AIR)
1938 – Jayendra Publicity, Kolhapur started
(i) Lever’s advertising department launches Dalda
(ii) The first major example of a brand and a marketing campaign specifically developed for India
(iii) The Press Syndicate Ltd., Bombay set up
3. Indianising Advertisements in the Forties:
1940 – Navanitlal & Co., Ahmedabad set up
(i) Lux signs Leela Chitnis as the first Indian film actress to endorse the product
(ii) Hindustan Thompson Associates (HTA), the current incarnation of JWT, coins the Balanced Nourishment concept to make Horlicks more relevant to India
(iii) Green’s Advertising Service Agents, Bombay formed
1943 – Advertising & Sales Promotion Co., (ASP), Calcutta established
(i) Dazzal, Bombay comes into existence
(ii) Ranjit Sales & Publicity Pvt. Ltd., Bombay started
(i) Efficient Publicities Pvt. Ltd., Madras set up
(ii) Tom & Bay (Advertising) Pvt. Ltd., Poona begins operations in India
(i) Eastern Psychograph Pvt. Ltd., Bombay set up
(ii) Everest Advertising Pvt. Ltd., Bombay established
(i) Grant Advertising Inc., Bombay formed
(ii) Swami Advertising Bureau, Sholapur started
(i) RC Advertising Co, Bombay set up
(ii) Phoenix Advertising Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta formed
1950s – Radio Ceylon and Radio Goa become the media option
1951 – Vicks VapoRub – a rub for colds, causes ripples with its entry in the balm market
1952 – Shantilal G. Shah & Co., Bombay
(i) Advertising Club, Mumbai set up
(ii) Express Advertising Agency, Bombay
(iii) India Publicity Co. Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta
(i) Aiyars Advertising & Marketing, Bombay
(ii) Clarion Advertising Services Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta
1958 – Shree Advertising Agency, Bombay
1959 – Associated Publicity, Cuttack
(i) Advertising Accessories, Trichur started
(ii) Marketing Advertising Associates, Bombay set up
(i) Industrial Advertising Agency, Bombay comes into existence
(ii) Bal Mundkur quits BOMAS to set up Ulka the same year
(i) India’s television’s first soap opera
(ii) Teesra Rasta enthralls viewers
(i) BOMAS changes names to SH Benson’s
(ii) Stronach’s absorbed into Norvicson
(iii) Lintas heading for uncertainty
(iv) Levers toying with giving its brands to other agencies
(v) Nargis Wadia sets up Interpub
(vi) Wills Filter Tipped cigarettes launched and positioned as made for each other, filter and tobacco match
1965 – Kersey Katrak sets up Mass Communication and Marketing (MCM)
(i) Government persuaded to open up the broadcast media
(ii) Ayaz Peerbhoy sets up Marketing and Advertising Associates (MAA)
1967 – First commercial appears on Vividh Bharati
(i) Nari Hira sets up Creative Unit
(ii) India wins the bid for the Asian Advertising Congress
1969 – Sylvester daCunha left Stronach’s to run ASP; later sets up daCunha Associates
1970 – Frank Simoes sets up Frank Simoes Associates
6. The Problematic Seventies:
(i) National Readership Studies provided relevant data on consumers’ reading habits
(ii) Concept of commercial programming accepted by All India Radio
(iii) Hasan Rezavi gives the very first spot on Radio Ceylon
1971 – Benson’s undergo change in name to Ogilvy, Benson & Mather
1972 – Western Outdoor Advertising Pvt. Ltd (WOAPL) introduces first closed circuit TV (CCT) in the country at the race course in Mumbai
1973 – RK Swamy/BBDO established
1974 – MCM goes out of business – Arun Nanda & Ajit Balakrishnan set up Rediffusion
1975 – Ravi Gupta sets up Trikaya Grey
1976 – Commercial Television initiated
1978 – First television commercial seen
1979 – Ogilvy, Benson & Mather’s name changes to Ogilvy & Mather
7. Glued to the Television in the Eighties:
(i) Mudra Communications Ltd set up
(ii) King-sized Virginia filter cigarette enters market with brand name of ‘Charms’
1981 – Network, associate of UTV, pioneers cable television in India
(i) The biggest milestone in television was the Asiad ’82 when television turned to colour transmission
(ii) Bombay Dyeing becomes the first colour TV ad
(iii) 13th Asian Advertising Congress in New Delhi
(iv) Media planning gets a boost
(i) Maggi Noodles launched to become an overnight success
(ii) Canco Advertising Pvt. Ltd. founded
(iii) Manohar Shyam Joshi’s Hum Log makes commercial television come alive
(iv) Mudra sponsors first commercial telecast of a major sporting event with the India-West Indies series
(i) Hum Log, Doordarshan’s first soap opera in the colour era is born
(ii) Viewers still remember the sponsor (Vicco) of Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi!
1985 – Mudra makes India’s first telefilm, Janam
1985-86 – 915 new brands of products and services appearing on the Indian market
(i) Sananda is born on July 31. The Bengali magazine stupefies India by selling 75,000 copies within three hours of appearing on the newsstands.
(ii) Mudra Communications creates India’s first folk-history TV serial Buniyaad. Shown on DD, it becomes the first of the mega soaps
(iii) Price quality positioning of Nirma detergent cakes boost sales
1988 – AAAI’s Premnarayan Award instituted
(i) Advertising Club Bombay begins a biennial seminar called ‘Advertising that Works’
(ii) Advertising & Marketing (A&M) magazine launched
(i) Marks the beginning of new medium Internet
(ii) Agencies open new media shops; go virtual with websites and Internet advertising
(iii) Brand Equity (magazine) of The Economic Times is born
(i) First India-targetted satellite channel, Zee TV starts broadcast
(ii) Close on the throes of the Gulf War enters STAR (Satellite Transmission for Asia Region)
(i) Spectrum, publisher of A&M, constitutes its own award known as ‘A&M Awards’
(ii) Scribes and media planners credit The Bold and the Beautiful serial on STAR plus channel as a soap that started the cultural invasion
(i) India’s only advertising school, MICA (Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad), is born
(ii) Tara on Zee TV becomes India’s first female-centric soap
(i) Advertising Club of Bombay calls its awards as Abby
(ii) Country’s first brand consulting firm, SABRE (Strategic Advantage for Brand Equity) begins operations
1996 – The ad fraternity hits big time for the first time by bagging three awards at the 43rd International Advertising Festival, Cannes Sun TV becomes the first regional TV channel to go live 24 hours – a day on all days of the week
(i) Media boom with the growth of cable and satellite; print medium sees an increase in titles, especially in specialised areas
(ii) Government turns towards professional advertising in the private sector for its VDIS campaigns
(iii) Army resorts to the services of private sector agencies
(iv) Advertising on the Internet gains popularity
(v) Equitor Consulting becomes the only independent brand consultancy company in the country
(vi) Several exercises in changing corporate identity
(vii) For the first time ever, Indians stand the chance of winning the $ 1- million booty being offered by Gillette as part of its Football World Cup promo
(i) Events assume important role in marketing mix
(ii) Rise of software TV producers banking on ad industry talent
(iii) Reinventing of cinema -advertising through cinema begins
1998 – Lintas becomes Ammirati Puri Lintas (APL)
1999 – B2B site agencyfaqs(dot)com launched on September 28,
1999 – The Advertising Club Bombay announces the Ad Works Trophy
(i) Mudra launches magindia(dot)com
(ii) India’s first advertising and marketing gallery
(iii) Lintas merges with Lowe Group to become Lowe Lintas and Partners (LLP)
(v) A portal offering free and fee ideas for money launched by Alyque Padamsee and Sam Mathews
(vi) Game shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati become a rage; media buying industry is bullish on KBC
(vii) Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi marks the return of family-oriented soap on TV
(viii) French advertising major Publicis acquires Maadhyam
(i) Trikaya Grey becomes Grey Worldwide
(ii) Bharti’s Rs.2.75-crore corporate TV commercial/ where a baby girl is born in a football stadium, becomes the most expensive campaign of the year
(i) Lowe Lintas & Partners rechristened Lowe Worldwide
(ii) For the first time in the history of HTA, a new post of president is created. Kamal Oberoi is appointed as the first president of HTA
Growth of Indian Advertising History:
“If the product is good, what do they need to advertise it for?” is the dour sort of question most of us grew up hearing from our elders at home. Regardless of the offence it gave the older generation’s socialist sensibilities, and despite the nationalisation of private entities, advertising in India continued nonetheless to thrive, just as it had done ever since the Irishman James Augustus Hickey published Hickey’s Bengal Gazette, two-and-a-quarter centuries ago.
As a six-year-old pouring over Indrajal comics, there’s no way I could have known, or cared, what ads were doing to help keep the price of Phantom, Bahadur and Mandrake in reach. Today, of course, I know better. Advertising gives me free-to-air channels, helps me run a personal space on the Internet for free, provides me with instant e-communication at no explicit cost and gets me newspapers at a price so low I can get a substantial part of it repaid by the raddiwallah.
Unabashedly, I am one of those people who hordes old magazines and newspaper clippings; under my bed hibernate cartons of half-century-old printed pulp, fraying edges providing tell-tale evidence of well-fed silverfish. Flipping through them, it’s the ads that still arrest, quaint, even rudimentary by today’s glossy standards, yet their appeal not just intact but enhanced by nostalgia’s natural preservatives.
Ads, after all, tell stories history tellers might not have thought worth picking up on. In the early years of Indian advertising, till the 1930s, foreign manufacturers used the same advertising here as they did in their home countries. The first Lux-loving Indian film star was featured in 1941 (Leela Chitnis).
The Hinglish that purists so despise had made its incursions into advertising lingo by the last quarter of the 19th century. Colour ads entered The Times of India in 1910. Kodak’s revolutionary, “You press the button. We do the rest” inspired this chilling spin-off from G. Edward’s & Co, a Calcutta-based taxidermist, “You shoot!! We do the rest,” to the near- extinction of the national animal.
In the 1950s, in a nascent republic of young hope, advertisements told of how much Indian industry believed in the new India. Text and images conveyed impressions of progress. Escorts was making medical equipment from the time when Faridabad used to be part of Punjab and plastic ware entered kitchens before my mom did.
It was also not the time for people to comprehend hidden meanings; everything had to be self-explanatory. Today’s “Daag acche lagte hain” Surf theme would not have worked back when black-and-white was all there was. A stain was dirty and could not possibly make you feel good. Surf continued “washing the whitest” for decades, until someone realised that white was not the only colour in the wardrobe.
In 1964, the Surgeon General of the United States, Luther Leonidas Terry, submitted a report connecting cigarette smoking with lung cancer; in 1965, the Bank of India’s general manager, TD Kansara, started saving his ‘smoke money’ with the bank at 4 percent per annum, or so their ad claims. Contrary to this, a swadeshi-sounding ad by John Petrino & Co asked readers to “Support the Indian industry by smoking guaranteed Indian-made Nizam, Vazeer & Gold Tipped Nizam.”
The waterfall was Indian advertising’s watershed, when former Air-India hostess Karen Lunel appeared in a green two-piece bikini for Liril. The first in a series that later also brought us Preity Zinta, Liril gave Indian advertising the sex appeal of the semi-dad feminine form, which it has used ever since to sell aftershaves, cars, clothing and condoms. Believe it or not, in the 1970s and 80s, patently unfit male models featured in sanitaryware ads, now exclusively a female domain. The only thing with well-formed muscles back then was the MRF man.
Somewhere down the line, creative directors also discovered that laughter is the best medicine and humour entered the world of advertising, most consistently through the Amul moppet who made her debut m the summer of 1967. When the country’s burgeoning population rates brought on a slew of government-sponsored family planning ads, Sylvester da Cunha and the team behind the Amul campaign took a shot at the forced sterilisations of the 1970s. The Hinglish that purists so despise had made its incursions into advertising lingo by the last quarter of the 19th century.
With the arrival of the Pooja Bedi supernova, courtesy KamaSutra, a series of clothes- shedding (matched only by summertime load shedding) commenced. So much skin show called for lighter shades; Fair & Lovely, for years a feminine preserve, now has its masculine version in Fair & Handsome.
Older ads also point to the leisureliness of times past. Copywriters expected readers to pore over hundreds of words of grey matter—and readers did. The celebrity quotient was much lower as well. You did have an occasional Farukh Engineer applying Brylcreem or Kapil Dev with his “Palmolive da jawab nahin”. But in the main, actors and sportsmen were kept to what they did best, allowing professional models to earn a livelihood.
Pop memorabilia, as every culture studies department knows, holds an invaluable reflection of a society’s image of itself. Our advertising history is not on university syllabi yet, but when it makes it, will be first to sign up for the course.
India catapulting to the 15 position in 2007 (from the 21st rank) in the coveted Gunn Report is by no means a small feat. A significant role in which was played by McCann India.
With its celebrated Happydent palace commercial making it to the Top 10 list of the Most Awarded Commercials Worldwide, McCann has helped Indian billing move up the ranks.
This is the first time in Advertising history that an Indian ad has made it to the top 10 most awarded list of the Gunn Report.
Gunn Report is an annual rating of creative work based on awards won by Advertising agencies worldwide in nearly 60 varied award shows and is the prestigious list which agency professional’s across the globe eagerly await.
The Gunn Report positions McCann India at no 22 worldwide and O&M India at no 45 with its adoption campaign garnering the 12th spot. & #8220; I am happy that apart from making a more than positive impact on the sales of the product, the happydent commercial has gone on to not only to raise the bar on creativity and win awards for McCann but also boost up India’ is ranking as a whole ” Prasoon Joshi, McCann’ is Chairman & Regional Creative Director, APAC, said.
The advertising business has become such an important factor in the economy in many countries, especially in the India, that it also changes the economy itself, society, culture, and the political system. The stimulation for the demand of products and services helps the economy grow stronger and stronger.
New inventions become known much faster and can establish their spot in the sales figures of the economy. If there are more people buying these products the overall costs will drop and the product will become cheaper for the customer which raises his willingness to buy even more. On the other hand advertisements are very expensive and some economists believe that these costs are put on top of the actual price paid by the customer.
Critics argue that advertising can also have a huge influence on society. It tells the consumers that only purchasing products makes you happy and therefore people compare each other on their belongings. Women also compare themselves with the beautiful and very skinny models they see on commercials and ads.
This sometimes results in eating disorders and a low self-esteem of women who don’t look like these models. Another bad effect is, that minority groups, especially in India are portrait in a subordinate position, which settles in the minds of people. Commercials are also an important part of the income of a TV station which leads to the suspicion that a news channel might not report on an incident about a company they depend on.
A lot of TV shows are also based on these commercials, and if the ratings aren’t good enough the show will be stopped. Only those shows which attract a lot of viewers will be shown, which is not very differentiated and put minorities like older people at a disadvantage.
Advertising can also have an impact in politics. $ 467 million were spent on advertisements and TV commercials in the elections of 1998. It gives the opponents the chance to respond to charges very quickly reaching a few million viewers. But since this is very expensive only very rich people have to chance to run for a political position or at least depend on the donation of wealthier people who could have a huge impact on democracy this way. The political issues talked about in an election are also very much simplified because the spots are only about 30 seconds long, and you cannot really discuss a lot in such a short period of time.
There is finally the impact advertising can have on the culture of a country. The globalized economy uses the same commercials in a lot of different countries, which leads to a break down in the differences of these societies. Children will grow up not knowing how their culture has been before in their country. It can also lead to a lot of discussion about moral values if we just think about the very controversial ads of Benetton.