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Introduction to Mass Communication

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The area which benefited the most from the extraordinary growth of mass media from the
seventeenth century is advertising. Advertising generally means announcing new products and services with
commercial interest and which people can use as part of their daily life.
Always present before the mass media, advertisements were, however, few and far between. People would
know little about the products and services available to them within a society. Verbal announcements on the
beat of drums or distribution of hand-written bills were common mode of telling the people around about
something pertaining to them. It was never an industry.
At the time printing process introduced in the middle of the fifteenth century no one would have thought
that the new invention would lead to entirely a new industry which would create jobs for millions of people
around the world and generate enormous business.
Not only the mass media helped the advertising industry grow, the later reciprocated in equal terms and at
present stage has come when outlets of mass media are opened only after ensuring that ample support from
the advertising business is available. Fact is that the two areas – mass communication and advertising – are
essential for each other’s survival.
Here we will examine the rise of advertising business as part of mass communication, its impact on society
and the help, it provides to mass media.

Historical background

In the colonial period, advertisements were primarily signboards on inns, coffeehouses, and the
likes. Travelers needed information about inns, but locals did not need advertisements in order to find the
blacksmith for instance.
The first newspaper to appear continuously, the Boston News-Letter, was established in 1704. It contained
sporadic advertisements. Real estate advertisements, rewards for runaway apprentices, and notices of slaves
for sale were all common, as were announcements of sale of articles, wine, and cloth. These advertisements
were limited to text; they contained no photographs or drawings obviously.
Publisher Benjamin Franklin founded the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1728. The Gazette included more
advertisements than did any other colonial newspaper, with up to half the pages devoted to advertising.
Franklin is credited with introducing the use of large-point headings, using white space to separate the
advertisements from the text, and, after 1750, including illustrations, say some sort of cartoons etc.
Over the next century, there was little subsequent change in advertising. Advertisements provided
information about goods for sale, arrivals and departures of ships, and coach-schedules.
Print advertisements were confined primarily within column rules; advertisements spanning more than one
column were yet to come.
In the 1860s, newspaper circulation increased, and magazine and periodical advertising began. Advertising
volume increased markedly. Multicolumn display advertisements were designed; their first use was to call
attention to the transcontinental railroad bonds that were being sold to the public. By the 1870s,
multicolumn advertisements had become common in most European and American newspapers.

Advertising in the backdrop of Industrialization

Since advertisements were assuming a very formal shape along with the newspapers and magazines,
the diffusion of steam power in the 1850s paved the way for a wave of technological change in the 1870s
and 1880s.
The mass production characterized much of the west manufacturing by 1890. Increased mechanization
generated increased fixed costs, creating an economic incentive to build large factories that could enjoy
economies of scale in production but which were dependent on mass demand.
The transcontinental railroad allowed relatively low-cost shipment of goods, making regional or national
markets economically feasible. Telegraph wires allowed low-cost and fast nationwide transmission of
information. Manufacturers created brand names and sought to familiarize buyers nationally with their
product. Where a housewife had once ordered a pound of generic baking powder, now she was encouraged
to insist on known quality by requesting only Royal Baking Powder.
Interestingly, manufacturers believed that buyers were primarily interested in the quality of the product;
competition by price was uncommon. National firms included drawings of sprawling factories and factory
owners in their advertisements; the larger the factory and thus the more successful the firm, the higher
quality the merchandise could be presumed to be. Singer Sewing Machines, Steinway Pianos, and
McCormick Harvesters and Reapers all produced advertisements of this sort.
The need to maintain demand became especially apparent during the 1893–1897 economic depression.
Many businesses failed; many more came close. Businesses needed methods to insulate themselves from
cyclical downturns in sales and production. Advertising was one tactic they employed.

Urbanization and commercials

In the U.S. only 20 percent of the population lived in urban areas in 1860, increasing to nearly 40
percent by 1900. The need for easy provision of consumer goods increased as more people therefore lived
divorced from the land. It is observed that in most cases it is the population in big cities and towns which is
targeted by the advertisers. The trend was stemmed in the beginning.
By 1900, advertising in newspapers was supplemented by advertising on streetcars, on billboards, and in
magazines. Full-page advertisements, especially in women's magazines, sought to influence women's
Ladies' Home Journal, established in 1883 by Cyrus H. K. Curtis, led the way. The Crowell Publishing
Company founded Women's Home Companion. William Randolph Hearst began Cosmopolitan, Good
and Harper's BAZAAR. Between 1890 and 1905 the monthly circulation of periodicals
increased from 18 million to 64 million.

Advertising Agencies

Advertising agents were middlemen in 1850. They bought advertising space from newspapers and
resold it at a profit to a company seeking to place an advertisement.
Beginning in about 1880, N. W. Ayer and Son of Philadelphia offered its customers an "open contract"
under which Ayer would be the company's sole advertising agent and, in exchange, would price advertising
space at cost plus a fixed-rate commission. The idea caught on. Manufacturers were soon blocked from
buying advertising space without an agent.
In 1893, the American Newspaper Publishers Association agreed to not allow discounts on space sold to
direct advertisers. Curtis Publishing Company, publishers of Ladies' Home Journal, inaugurated the same
practice in 1901, and other magazine publishers soon followed suit. The cost-plus-commission basis for the
agency was accepted industry wide in 1919, with the commission standardized at 15 percent.
Until the 1890s, conceptualization and preparation of advertising copy were the responsibility of the firm
placing the advertisement. But as companies followed N. W. Ayer & Son's cost-plus-commission pricing
policy, agents could no longer compete with each other on price; they needed some other means of
distinguishing their services from those of competing agents.
Advertising agents—soon to be known as advertising agencies—took on their modern form: writing copy;
creating trademarks, logos, and slogans; and overseeing preparation of artwork. Ayer hired a full-time
copywriter in 1892; Procter and Collier of Cincinnati did so by 1896; Lord Thomas of Chicago did so by
1898. By 1910, advertising agencies were universally characterized by the presence of full-time copywriters
and artists.
One step in convincing others that advertising was a profession to be taken seriously was the 1917
formation of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
The Association crafted broadly defined industry standards. Thereafter, the industry was quickly afforded
the respect it desired. In 1926, President Calvin Coolidge addressed the Association's annual convention.
For its ability to create mass demand, he credited advertising with the success of the American industrial

Modern Advertising

Modern advertising—advertising with the goal of creating desire for a product where none
previously existed—began in the early twentieth century. With the blessing of leaders in the advertising
industry, psychologists had begun applying principles of psychology to advertising content in the
late 1890s.
In 1901, psychologist Walter Dill Scott, speaking on the psychology of advertising, addressed a gathering of
businessmen. His book The Theory of Advertising appeared in 1903. Advertisers were initially skeptical of
Scott's thesis that psychological principles, especially the concept of suggestion, could be effectively applied
to advertising.

Public service advertising

The same advertising techniques used to promote commercial goods and services can be used to
inform, educate and motivate the public about non-commercial issues, such as AIDS, political ideology,
energy conservation, religious recruitment, and deforestation advertising, in its non-commercial guise, is a
powerful educational tool capable of reaching and motivating large audiences.
Public service advertising, non-commercial advertising, public interest advertising, cause marketing, and
social marketing are different terms for (or aspects of) the use of sophisticated advertising and marketing
communications techniques (generally associated with commercial enterprise) on behalf of non-commercial,
public interest issues and initiatives.
In the United States, the granting of television and radio licenses is contingent upon the station
broadcasting a certain amount of public service advertising. To meet these requirements, many broadcast
stations in America air the bulk of their required Public Service Announcements during the late night or
early morning when the smallest percentage of viewers are watching, leaving more day and prime time
commercial slots available for high-paying advertisers.
Public service advertising reached its height during World Wars I and II under the direction of several

Advertisement impact

An ongoing conflict thus arose in the early twentieth century between two types of advertising:
"reason-why" and "atmosphere" advertising. Dominant in the late nineteenth century, reason-why
advertising consisted of long, detailed discourses on the features of a product. Atmosphere advertising
reflected psychology's influence; it emphasized visual imagery that evoked emotions. The conflict between
the two types of advertising was especially intense in the decade before World War I (1914–1918).
In 1909, the advertisers of Colgate toothpaste took the conflict directly to consumers, giving them the
opportunity to decide "Which Is the Better Ad?"—the one that offered a detailed explanation of the health
advantages of Colgate toothpaste, or the one that used illustrations to associate the use of Colgate with a
happy family life.

Most practitioners and advertisers were won over by about 1910

Psychologists were judged correct; advertising could change needs and desires. After 1910, most
advertising copy emphasized buyers' needs and desires rather than the product's objectively described


Advertising's success during World War I fully settled the issue. Most advertisements sounded a
patriotic pitch as they sought to sell Liberty and Victory Bonds, raise money for the Red Cross, and more.
Some advertising historians even credited the industry with shortening the war.

A number of advertising appeared in the 1920s, authored by professors of psychology
whose affiliations were often with schools of business. Surveys sought to ascertain the
fundamental wants or desires of human beings. A typical list would include appetite, love, sexual attraction,
vanity, and approval by others. Atmosphere advertisements emphasized how a product could satisfy these
Advertisers increasingly looked upon themselves as quite set apart from the consumers who saw their ads. Copywriters were
male. Consumers were female. Roland Marchand, author of Advertising the American Dream (1985), found that advertisers
in the 1920s and 1930s were predominantly male, white, Christian, upper-class, well-educated people who frequently employed
servants and even chauffeurs, and whose cultural tastes ran to modern art, opera, and symphonies. They saw their audience as
female, fickle, debased, emotional, possessing a natural inferiority complex, having inarticulate longings, low intelligence, and
bad taste, and being culturally backward. The copy and visual imagery created by these advertising men often emphasized the
woman's desire to be loved or her desire to be a good mother.

Criticism on advertisements

Advertising is often charged with creating a culture of consumerism in which people define
themselves by the goods they buy. Certainly the first big boom in advertising volume and the rise of
consumerism are coincidental: Consumerism first characterized the United States in the early twentieth
century; advertising volume increased at an annual rate of nearly 9 percent between 1900 and 1920.
Moreover, it was in this period that advertising first began emphasizing the ability of goods to meet
emotional needs and, more to the point, first began its efforts to create needs where none had previously
been felt.

Advertising business

U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2001
(billions of dollars)
PERCENTAGE 1900 0.5 —
1920 2.9 8.8
1929 3.4 1.7
1946 003.3 0.1
1960 011.9 9.5
1970 019.6 5.1
1990 129.6 9.9
2000 236.3 6.2

NOTE: The most recent media development, the Internet, was advertisement-free until the first banner advertisements were
sold in 1994. Ownership of computers and use of the Internet are both increasing rapidly; by 1999, 34 percent of adults
nationwide claimed access to the Internet or an online service. Internet advertising increases apace.

Legislation on advertisements

Consumer’s objections to advertising and its tactics have resulted in legislation, lawsuits, and
voluntary restraint. The 1914 Federal Trade Commission Act empowered the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) with the authority to regulate "unfair methods of competition." The 1938 Wheeler-Lea Amendment
extended the FTC's powers to "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." The detrimental effects of billboards
on the countryside inspired the federal Highway Beautification Act in 1965, which regulated placement of
billboards near interstate highways. The "Joe Camel" campaign for Camel cigarettes introduced by R. J.
Reynolds in the 1970s resulted in a 1990s federal lawsuit because of the campaign's alleged attempt to hook
kids on smoking. A voluntary ban on television advertising by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United
States was just one part of its Code of Good Practice regarding marketing and advertising, first adopted in
1934. Political advertising, with the goal of swaying voters rather than consumers, enjoys First Amendment
protection but does face some constraints under state laws and under the Federal Communications
Commission's Equal Access Law as well as the Federal Election Campaign Act.
Legislation was also done in almost all the European states, in Asia and Australia of similar nature to
regulate the business of advertising.

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