What Is Advertising
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
ADVERTISING is an art older than history, though in its present forms it is quite recent. The newest of all its developments is that phase in which we are most interestedóDirect Advertising. The relation between advertising and selling is so close and intimate that they can hardly be separated. Probably the only distinction that really exists is this: when we advertise by word of mouth and by personal con-tact, we call it "selling;" when we sell, or try to sell, by sample or by the printed word, we call such selling "advertising."
Advertising began on that day in the distant and unrecorded past when one of our primordial ancestors, squatting over a fire in front of a cave, learned to make more stone axes or to dress more pelts than he could himself use. If he put out a sample where it could be seen by others who might give him in exchange for it something of which he stood in need, he was advertising his wares, and he was a manufacturer or at least a craftsman. Was he not in fact the window-trimmer of the Palaeolithic Age?
Rumor and the crude gossip of primitive peoples unquestionably constituted the earliest form of oral advertisement, and some forms of currency or media of exchange replaced pure barter and enlarged the scope of trade when history was very young, or indeed before it existed at all. Periodical meetings or fairs were the first organized schemes of selling, and as early as the third century such a fair on the banks of the River Stour, in Britain, attracted buyers from remote parts of the land. The hawkers who cried their wares to the skin-clad crowds were the first British advertisers, though in such civilizations as those of Rome and Egypt the art was more advanced. Many examples of advertising have been taken from the ruins of Pompeii and Memphis.
It is, of course, from the invention of movable types by Johann Gutenberg, of Mainz, about the year 1445, that anything comparable to modern advertising dates. The development was very slow. More than two hundred years elapsed before the first newspaper advertisement was printed. It was an announcement of a bookó"The Divine Right of Church Government," and it was published in May, 1647, in a paper called "Perfect Occurrences of Every Daie Journall in Parliament, and Other Moderate Intelligence." Curiously enough, it was in early America that the development and elaboration of newspaper advertising occurred. Apart from mere announcements, books and quack nostrums formed the subject of most early English advertising, and the first commercial commodity that was advertised, so far as is known, was tea. This quaint advertisement appeared in the Mercurius Politicus of September, 1658:
"That excellent and by all Physitians approved China drink, called by the Chineans Tcha, by other nations Tay, alias Tee, is sold at Sultaness Head, a Cophee-house in Sweetings Rents, by the Royal Exchange, London."
Many elaborate and confusing definitions of advertising have been printed in recent treatises on the subject. On the other hand, Mr. Arthur Brisbane's remark that "advertising is only telling," has been much quoted. We see no justification of hair-splitting discussion of a question on which in all essentials every one is agreed. Advertising is more than "telling," because it has a commercial aspect and purpose, and most of this world's telling is mere idle gossip having no serious end.
We should say that, for all purposes, it is sufficient to say that advertising is the telling to others that we have something to sell, and it is the telling of it in such a way as to create the desire to buy. To tell a person or many persons that we have something to sell is an announcement. But when we interject comment and argument tending to create a desire on the part of that other person to buy or to possess the thing we offer, we are entering into the larger and true field of advertisement. It is in this phase of advertising that its art centers, and it is to further this end that the whole technique of advertising has developed.
In the main, therefore, we see that advertising is a very simple thing. It is only in making its appeal more and more effective that a great and complex art has developed.
The chief divisions of advertising are few, though each is susceptible of many variations. They are:
1. General advertising, such as the advertisements we see in all newspapers and magazines. This is called "general" because it is addressed to all who may read. It is, of course, most effective with regard to commodities which every one may use. Every reader of The Saturday Evening Post or The New York Times wears shoes and may consume breakfast food.
2. Poster advertising, or outdoor advertising, as it is often called. This form of advertisement derives its main value from pure publicity, and is quite comparable to the mere announcement that a doctor, for example, returning from his summer holiday, may put in the newspapers to apprise his patients that he has returned and that his services are again available. Ordinarily the poster enters into no extensive argument in favor of the goods it exploits. If the manufacturers of Camel cigarettes can make the name of that brand so familiar to every one that it comes into his mind the moment he thinks of cigarettes, they have accomplished their purpose. The only argument is likely to consist of a single catch-phrase or slogan that will stick in the mind as readily as the name of the brand.
"Dependable," "It Floats," "That Schoolgirl Complexion," and "Good to the Last Drop," will suggest to the minds of almost every reader of this book a famous product. The embellishment of these great announcements with pictures of a very high order is a recent development serving two ends. It draws the eye to the announcement and at the same time, by its artistic appeal, tends to offset that public opposition that is always springing up against the defacement of landscapes by advertising boards.
3. Direct advertising is the latest general development of all, and it is probably the fastest growing. The term quite defines itself. What else can the words "direct advertising" suggest than the sending of advertising directly to the person whom you wish to interest? That is all there is to it. The advertising may take only two general forms: it may be a letter or a piece of printing describing your product and explaining its uses and advantages, or it may be a sample of your merchandise, sent so that the recipient may test it for himself and form his own judgment of its worth. A vast amount of advertising is done without sampling, but there is very little sampling that is not accompanied by some advertising. A great American soap manufacturer spends about $2,500,000 per year in advertising his goods, and about $3,000,000 per year in sending out samples to the public.
The manufacturer of paper enjoys an unique advantage in the use of direct advertising because he can do both at once. In advertising our Buckeye Cover and Buckeye Antique Text papers, we can send a sample of the paper to a prospective customer, and at the same time we can print on it an argument in its favor and illustrate the results that may be got by its proper use and treatment. Almost all paper advertisements are an advertisement, a sample, and a demonstration combined.
It is scarcely necessary to defend advertising as an economic force. Its place in business is so completely established that hardly any person of intelligence or experience now believes that advertising is an added cost which the consumer pays. The successful businesses of the world are the largest advertisers, and it would be futile to contend that they have built up their large enterprises by selling their goods at higher prices than do their competitors who do not advertise. This would be impossible. The effect of advertising is best evidenced by this statement, made by Dr. J. T. Dorrance, the president of the Campbell Soup Company, one of the largest advertisers in the world:
- In 1898 the output of the Campbell Soup Company was 500,000 cans for the entire year.
- Nowó18,000,000 cans are produced in one week.
- In 1898 the expense for salesmen was 7 1/2 per cent, and for advertising 14 per cent of the selling price.
- Nowóthe cost for salesmen is 2 1/2 per cent, and for advertising less than 3 per cent, making a total selling cost of 5 per cent, or 2 1/2 per cent less than it cost for salesmen alone in 1898.
- The advertised price of Campbell's soup is twelve cents a can anywhere in the United States. This pays for the cost of the materials, the manufacturing charges, the transportation cost, and the profits of jobbers and retailers.
- The cost of advertising in a single can of soup is seventeen one-hundredths of one per cent.
- Advertising has assisted us to stabilize our business, to guarantee the consumer a product of uniformly superior quality at a low price, to make sure that whatever profit is made on our raw materials is made by the farmer and not by the middleman, and to keep our manufacturing organization employed at steady wages throughout the year.
- Advertising, and advertising alone, has made this possible.