Monday 19th of February 2018
Adverts and marketing campaigns in national press still make headlines today and still generate customers and awareness for a range of businesses of all sizes and types.
Press advertising has been a major part of capitalism and pop culture history for the last three centuries. Its grown at its most rapid pace through the 20th and 21st centuries and London remains one of the world’s advertising hubs today. How did it all begin, and where is it going next? PromoMEDIA investigates…
The 18th Century
Back in the 18th century, there were three main forms of advertising that didn’t involve word-of-mouth. The first was the trade card; essentially a business card but describing a single product or service and of course, no phone numbers or website info! The second was outdoor promotional posters and billboards affixed to buildings – or even better, painted directly on – and the third, and least popular, small adverts in newspapers.
Scottish newspaper editors were the first to realise the potential of advertising within their pages, and copywriters north of the border also began to offer placements that looked like regular articles; manipulating the language and tone to tie it in with Scottish affairs, patriotism and appetites. Written product testimonies from trusted local individuals were also included.
Down in England, ads began to appear in weekly nationwide papers a few years later and were primarily used to market books and other journals – which at the time were considered very affordable due to the prevalence of the modern printing press. As newspaper ads evolved and developed, the most popular adverts were used for medicines, accounts of troublesome people and missing persons.
The 19th Century
As newspapers, periodicals and magazines became more widespread in the 19th century, so did press advertising. The sector swung heavily to advertise to women, recognising them as the current spending power for non-essential items in the home. Beauty products, cleaning items and fashion were all heavily featured amongst many ad campaigns by household brands that would be considered quite sexist by today’s standards.
Thomas J Barratt was lauded as the “father” of advertising for his creation of the infamous Pears Soap campaigns, which held the slogan “Good morning. Have you used Pears Soap?”: it went on to run right into the Victorian era. It was during this period that businesses started to copyright their branding and work, with Pears themselves buying up the rights to use a famous painting throughout its ads. Advertising spend began to grow and Pears held an annual budget of up to £80,000; considered really quite a lot back then.
The 20th Century
World Wars saw advertising placements used frequently for public service messaging rather than amenities and luxuries, but post-war, the tide turned back to commercialism. Advertising agencies opened specifically to manage brand marketing, and gradually London offices became outposts for larger international services. Tobacco advertising was extremely popular but later banned, and oil and gas companies spent millions on marketing before appetites changed and environmentalism became mainstream.
Now, press ads were priced based on their publication’s circulation, their size and their prominence. Brands began to take a more joined-up, strategic approach to placing their campaigns across a range of titles and proper marketing campaign management began.
The 21st Century
Now, press advertising still remains popular – and it really works. Despite declining readership numbers of traditional physical newspapers, brands can choose to advertise in print or online versions of titles, as well as on e-books and through further online re-targeting.
Contrary to controversial headlines and popular opinion; print isn’t dead! It’s just evolving. And we should know… we advertise successfully for hundreds of brands, big and small, in print titles every year.
Local and national titles now differ hugely, and ads can be tailored for different audiences and publications. The quick use and availability of graphic design programs allows for ads to be tweaked and changed right up until print deadlines; and you’ll often find that advertising teams offer great discounted deals last-minute to fill up space. This is where agencies like PromoMEDIA come in; we can help you plan out your placements, adapt each to be suitable for the relevant audience and to negotiate you great deals even when you’re not buying a pricey package or placement!
In the age of social media, where one lone voice can be amplified hugely, it’s imperative that your placements are judged with care. The relevance is of course key but keeping abreast of current affairs and social feeling toward titles is also important in a way that it never has been before. Even household names who can more than afford a little ill-feeling and wasted space have been forced to pull major campaigns as ‘buzz’ generated on social media and through public opinion sways. Of course, for smaller businesses, this constant monitoring just isn’t realistic. That’s why agencies like PromoMEDIA exist; to take the heat and effort from you and instead allow you to work on your key business focus, while we focus on getting the word about you out there.
£1.7 billion is still spent on newspaper advertising annually and there’s great recall to that spend. Remember Specsavers “Should Have Gone To...” goal-line technology ads, Nandos clever word-plays and all the open letters shared over the Brexit campaign period? All were newspaper adverts and have since gone on to spark debate, social sharing and even better; swayed opinion and spurred on purchases.
PromoMEDIA have years of experience targeting even the most niche of audiences across national, international and localised titles. Drawing press into your marketing mix can help strengthen brand awareness, generate sales and promote messaging in different ways to other channels, so it shouldn’t be ignored, even if your brand is a digital one. Get in touch with the Press Ads team today and let’s talk print advertising!