Advertising And The Unreached Masses
( Originally Published 1902 )
One evening recently while walking down Washington Street, Boston, with the advertising manager of one of the Hub's leading enterprises, the question occurred to us
" How many of the thousands about us are unreached by advertising?"
We discussed it.
To the right and left stretched side streets showing hotels, apartment houses, tenement houses, private houses, small stores, saloons and restaurants, out of which poured streams of humanity to be swallowed up by the greater streams of the streets.
Up and down brilliantly lighted Washington Street wandered another and better dressed crowd-some for a promenade, some to the theatre, some to their homes, some from their homes—all apparently without thought of advertising.
Nearly all familiar with newspapers, but to what degree?
Some take up a newspaper to glance at its sporting and athletic page-that and nothing more.
Some take up a newspaper to see its locals—that and nothing more.
Some take up a newspaper to note its political news and views—that and nothing more.
Some take up a newspaper to while away a moment. Some—not many—never read a newspaper.
Does the advertisement compiled so carefully and costing so much strike home to these people? Hardly.
Some take up a magazine long enough to look at its pictures.
Some take up a magazine long enough to read a story or special article.
Some never read a magazine from the first day of the year to the last.
Upon them what influence has the advertisement? Echo answers " What? "
Some cannot read.
Some can read, but do not.
Some are so distracted by pressing personal matters that the advertisement makes absolutely no impression upon their minds.
Even the bludgeon-like advertising that comes under the heading of electric signs, bill boards, fence and dead wall advertising has no effect upon a great number of people for the simple reason that familiarity not only begets contempt, but also breeds forgetfulness. The stranger in Union Square the first night would be instantly struck by the fine electric advertising signs. The second night the impression would be less vivid. The third still less, and inside of a month, amid the clang of cars, the whirr of the cable, the hum of the city and the lights of the streets and stores, his mind would be as unimpressionable to advertising as though he were walking through a Jersey meadow.
The vast sums spent to reach him and thousands of others represent money absolutely wasted.
Some are influenced by the advertisements all illustrations —with such it is abortive to try and reach with advertising purely literary, no matter how lucid or logical.
Some have minds running in so mathematical a groove that they are only affected by advertising heavy with argument.
Some are so frivolous that only airy persiflage appeals to them, and others have artistic natures so exquisite that they shudder at a single line of typographical malformation.
The point of view of every man or woman is constantly changing. The argument that appeals to the youth of seven-teen hardly hits the man of forty, while he is persuaded by that which unconcerns the man of seventy.
The object of advertising is to influence the mind—that which to a very large degree is the result of environment and personal influences. When it does not influence it is not advertising. And it is clear to any dispassionate observer that there is a lot of scattering shot in the constant volleys of advertising.