The Art of Advertising - Early to Mid-1900's

Good afternoon, NCLAC-ers! So, the 1900's. What's so great about it? Oh you know, just a few things. Have you heard of the Wright Brothers? They flew (1903). Have you ever seen a movie? Yeah, so did these folks (1903). What about e=MC^2 (1905)? Corn Flakes (1906)? The Ford Model-T (1908)? Oreo cookies (1912)? WWI (1914)? The Reader's Digest (1922)? Bubble gum, Mickey Mouse, and freaking SLICED BREAD (1928 quite possibly the greatest year of all time)!!! The end of prohibition (1933. PLUG: Artoberfest is October 5th!) T-shirts (1942)? Ballpoint pens (1944)? Microwaves and SLINKIES (fun combo back in 1945)? Bikinis (1946)? Polaroids (1947; coincidence?) The credit card (1950)? Playboy (1953)? Disneyland (1955)?

Yeah, the early 20th century was pretty bad-a. What you may have noticed is that there was a ton of new stuff to spend money on! And you know what that means, right? More advertisements!

Now television was introduced in 1949, but that is going to be a huge and fun topic, so we'll save early TV for later. Let's stick with print and outdoor for now. We will look at some examples of great ads for consumer products, automobiles, and political ads.

People were buying all sorts of crazy things in the early 20th century like light bulbs, telephones, and Kodak cameras. Companies did a good job advertising these products. Take a look.


Now for some analysis and criticism! The Edison ad is fantastic for many reasons. Number 1 is the amount of white space. When playing the blues, the notes you don't play are just as important as the ones you do. Same thing for art. This use of white space attracts the eye because it is uncluttered. The whole ad is simple and clean. It gets the point across in an easy to understand fashion.

The Jell-o ad is another brand recognition ad. The public seems to be fascinated with the telephone because of the inclusion of one in this ad. The text provides credibility and demonstrates Jell-o's affordability (only 10c).

The Heinz ad is great because it poses a problem and solution in picture form. The copy is really great, too. It provides details on how the Heinz company helps the housewife.

The Kodak ad offers an engaging headline, and interesting picture, and effective copy.

Now for some less than healthy pass times: candy, soda, booze, and cigarettes! These are staples in the advertising industry, so it's probably a good idea to take a brief look at em.


The marketing mavens at Coca-Cola


Notice the difference in feel for the Coke and Seven-up ads

Booze. Artoberfest is October 5th!!!


And for all the fellow Mad Men fans...


Since Ford came out with the Model-T, automobiles became very popular. Here are a few different ads for cars and motorcycles from back in the day.


The french Ford ad talks about how it can go 100 kilometers on 10 liters of gasoline. The Chrysler ad says that it's as quiet as a carp.

There was a lot of political turmoil during this time because of the war and the depression. Recruiting efforts were high. The U.S. Army and artist James Montgomery Flagg developed Uncle Sam in order to boost recruitment. There were also ads and posters for war bonds and rationing. This era brought about some of the most iconic images in American history.


So there you have it. Some of the biggest events of the early 1900s in advertisements! I'm excited about digging into more specific areas next week as we continue our journey of Advertising through time.

Comment below!!