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History of Advertising

The history of advertising dates back much further than most would expect. Some would say it started in the modern era with the emergence of newspapers, magazines, and other print. However, it dates back even further. The beginning of advertising can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians using papyrus a thick material that resembles modern paper and wrote on it to tell of sales and post announcements. Advertisements for political campaigns have been also found in the ruins of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. In many ways the rock wall paintings found in Africa, South America and Asia can be considered advertising or trying to spread the knowledge of an event in the past or in the future.

In Europe during the middle ages, not many people could read or write. This being said, there had to be a way for them to find the stores or shops they were looking for without having to constantly ask around. This was combatted by instead of putting the name of the shop on the sign they instead would just have a picture of the product. This would attract more people in as they knew from the sign that this shop had the product they were looking for. Other ways things were advertised were community message boards and actors playing pieces of the play in the street trying to get people to come in to see the rest of the show.

Jumping forward into 1700’s there was one man who played a huge part in the history of advertising in colonial America. This man was Benjamin Franklin. He was publisher of the Philadelphia Gazette and Poor Richard’s Almanac, he changed advertising style by including simple illustrations next to the words. Throughout history these symbols from the middle ages turned to just copy or text as more people learned to read and write. Then to reach every crowd they combined the two. In the 1800’s in the United States, the first advertising firm was established. In 1842 Volney B. Palmer set up an advertising agency in Philadelphia. In 1842 they started by buying spots in newspapers in bulk to sell them separately at higher prices. Then eventually the advertising firms in the United States evolved into actually doing the campaigning themselves. From the early cave drawing and crude medieval signs we have advanced to advertisements like a few of the ones that you will see on this page. Advertising is not a simple process, but one that has been brewing since the beginning of time.

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