Foreign Advertising - A Little About It
( Originally Published 1902 )
There's one thing certain!,
Foreign advertising must take its hat off to American advertising.
Foreign advertising generally is very poor. English advertising is the best in foreign advertising, but English advertising is not a circumstance to our own American advertising.
English advertisers seem to lack typographical taste, as well as clear expression and logic in presenting arguments.
I was looking over the Paris edition of the New York Herald the other day, and could not but help comparing its advertising columns with the advertising columns of this city's issue. In the New York Herald you see literary and artistic merit, representing every shade of ingenious effort—pages of it. In the Paris edition you will find but a small showing of advertising, and that principally composed of stilted and conventional cards of business houses, hotels, etc. Same way with the advertising columns of such continental leading publications as The Fliegende Bks'tter (the best comic weekly in existence) published in Germany. Look through the Russian and far Eastern papers and you will find this dearth of advertising activity.
Why? Goodness knows! In the editorial and news columns you will find polished diction, deep thought, philosophy, wit, pathos; art, poetry, and every other intellectual output represented, but all this stops short at the advertising columns.
It is not that business competition does not exist in foreign lands as it does in America. It is not that there is a lack of good writers, artists, and business men to produce good advertising. It must be that the value of-good advertising is not instilled into foreign minds as it is in domestic mentalities. It is my belief that the recent improvement in English advertising has been due in a large measure to the circulation in that country of American advertising ideas.
Porto Rico is claiming a good share of newspaper space these days, and although Porto Rico is at present under the American flag still that country's advertising is set in a conglomeration of types of different sizes and styles. No arguments are used to lure people into the stores, and all lines of goods are named together. Oil stoves, women's wrappers, watches, lady's skirts, etc., are spoken of in one breath. There promises to be a large and growing future in Porto Rico for the advertising writer.
A friend of mine in Manila sends me occasionally copies of its daily paper, and there is no evidence in its columns that the writer of publicity is making himself felt to any alarming degree.
And once in awhile a client of mine in the city of Mexico sends me a copy of a Mexican paper. Talk about paper and press work, let alone the thought and concrete work shown by the ads
Why, sir, it is
Ah! here is where my pen fails me.
Give me the American papers every time. Their news, editorial and advertising columns represent enterprise, ability, push, progress, outlay of time, energy, brains and money—in short every conception the human brain is capable of conceiving and every work ingenious hands can produce.