75 Years of Ideas

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"Advertising Age . . . has been developed to meet a definite need. Presenting the news of advertising- a business of widespread interests and ramifications, involving expenditures of two billion dollars a year-has never been the primary, exclusive function of any advertising publication. That is the task to which Advertising Age will devote itself."

With those words, G.D. Crain Jr. boldly introduced the weekly publication Ad Age to the world on the eve of the Great Depression, 75 years ago this week (Jan. 11 to be exact).

Since that mandate, Ad Age has told the marketing world what was important, what marketers, media and agencies are talking about and how events in the world have an impact on their working lives.

It would be wrong to say we've never looked back, because we are doing exactly that. Beginning with this week's issue, Ad Age begins a countdown of the 75 biggest moments in the businesses of marketing and media over the last 75 years, as ranked by a select team of editors. This week we present the bottom 10 on that list, from the self-indulgent No. 75 (Ad Age launches) to the absolutely innovative (Absolut vodka's 1979 introduction). We will count down five more in each of the following weeks on the way to unveiling our top choice-any guesses?-which will appear in a special 75th anniversary issue to be published March 28.

In that issue we'll not only look back, but will explore the business today and where we see it going, all part of our commitment to having Ad Age and AdAge.com continue to "meet a definite need" in the marketplace.

75 'Advertising Age' launches

On Monday, Jan. 11, 1930, a new publication arrives on the desks of 10,000 advertising people across the U.S. This 12-page maiden issue of Advertising Age presents itself modestly with a front page box headlined "Why we are here."

It reads, in part: "Advertising Age, the National Newspaper of Advertising, has been developed to meet a definite need. Presenting the news of advertising ... has never been the primary, exclusive function of any advertising publication. This is the task to which Advertising Age will devote itself."

Today, Ad Age remains the dominant news and information source in the area of advertising and marketing, remaining true to its original goal.

74 Birth of reality TV

The 1990s see a new genre of TV emerging. MTV in 1992 debuts "The Real World," a documentary about a group of young people who are thrown together. The camera catches everything they do, capturing their thoughts about the other roommates while watching them struggle with everyday traumas.

While MTV arguably brought the new format to youngsters' attention, it's CBS' "Survivor," arriving in May 2000, that puts reality TV firmly on the media map. CBS begins promoting "Survivor," from producer Mark Burnett, eight months before the show actually debuts, generating significant advance buzz in the process. "Survivor" is huge and lands the first winner, Richard Hatch, on the front pages of newspapers.

73 Gannett starts `USA Today'

In September 1982, Gannett Co. amid great fanfare rolls out USA Today as the first general-interest national newspaper. Quickly dubbed "McPaper" by detractors because of its short "once-over-lightly" articles and heavy use of graphics and color, USA Today nonetheless enjoys a steady circulation climb. Circulation currently stands at 2.3 million, making the paper the best-selling U.S. daily. And its impact has been felt in other ways as papers nationwide have copied USA Today's short-items news approach and its liberal use of color, not just in photos but also in charts, graphics and its iconic weather map.

72 Food marketers consolidate

Following a spate of mergers between strange bedfellows in the `90s such as RJR and Nabisco and Philip Morris with Kraft, food marketers begin pairing up with each other starting in 2000. In early June, Unilever offers a whopping $24.3 billion for Bestfoods, followed by Philip Morris USA's $14.9 billion buy of Nabisco Holdings. Shortly thereafter, there's another rash of purchases including General Mills' $10.5 billion buy of Diageo's Pillsbury Co., Kellogg Co. 's $3.6 billion acquisition of Keebler Foods Co. and PepsiCo's $13.4 billion addition of Quaker Oats Co.

The goal: To help them navigate the growing, centralized power of once-regional food retailers and Wal-Mart Stores. Recent news such as Kraft's sale of Altoids and LifeSavers to Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. shows that attempts to be bigger have actually blurred marketer focus. The reality of managing an amalgam of far-flung brands proves harder than expected.

71 Motivational research dawns

In 1946, Viennese psychologist Ernest Dichter founds the Institute of Motivational Research and begins dispensing marketing advice based on qualitative "depth interviews" with consumers and popular Freudian notions of the day. Convinced that consumer behavior is determined by subconscious desires rather than rational motives, Mr. Dichter helps marketers such as Procter & Gamble Co., Chrysler Corp. and Esso sell products by linking them with intangible motives like serenity (Ivory's promise to "wash all your troubles away") and power (Esso's famous directive to "put a tiger in your tank").

Although a strictly Freudian understanding of consumers' motives has long been out of favor-as it has been throughout the social sciences-Mr. Dichter's work prefigures many current qualitative approaches, including the widespread use of focus groups, psychographics and lifestyle research.

70 RJR retires Old Joe

On July 10, 1997, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. announces it will eliminate cartoon mascot "Joe Camel" from its advertising for Camel cigarettes. Since importing the updated character from a French ad campaign in 1987, RJR has faced mounting criticism that the character encourages children to smoke.

In 1991, the Journal of the American Medical Association publishes a study claiming that Joe Camel is as identifiable as Mickey Mouse among 6-year-olds. Surgeon General Antonia Novello calls on RJR to dump the character in 1992, and the Federal Trade Commission recommends banning the ads.

69 Charren's ACT takes on kids ads

Peggy Charren, a mom who's disturbed by the lack of quality programming for children as well as excessive advertising aimed at them, speaks out. Initially from her suburban Boston home in 1968, Ms. Charren and volunteers launch Action for Children's Television. They call for educational and responsible children's programs, restrictions on how products can be sold, and an end to hucksterism by stars on TV shows.

By 1971, Ms. Charren has lobbied and petitioned the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, and has raised awareness about toy ads as well as those for unhealthy foods. In 1978, the FTC recommends limits be placed on advertising so as to not capitalize on children's naivete. In 1996, the FCC establishes rules on how advertising can reach kids.

68 Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act

The year 1933 marks publication of "100,000,000 Guinea Pigs," a muckraking look into the food, drug and cosmetics business. It galvanizes New Deal leaders; a bill is submitted by U.S. Sen. Royal Copeland, D-N.Y., in May 1933, along with an exhibit of particulars the press calls a "chamber of horrors"-rat poison marketed as hair remover, an eyelash dye that leaves users blind. In June 1938 a Copeland food, drug and cosmetics bill becomes law. Later that year, the Wheeler-Lea Act gives the Federal Trade Commission power to police "deceptive acts of commerce" through cease-and-desist orders. By 1940 Fleischmann's, Lifebuoy, Lux and Ipana run afoul of the agency. From then on, no marketer takes the FTC for granted.

67 Absolut vodka ads debut

Sweden's Wine & Spirits Corp. in 1979 teams up with Carillon Importers for the U.S. launch of Absolut. The vodka is already a success when TBWA is tapped to handle its advertising in 1981. The agency's idea is streamlined and simple: a shot of a bottle accompanied by sly two-word jokes, with the first word always being Absolut. The first ad, "Absolut perfection," shows a halo over the bottle. The advertising, bottle design and positioning elevate Absolut to No. 1 imported vodka in 1985, a spot it still holds. Andy Warhol and numerous artists have contributed to the more than 400 installations of the campaign, still at TBWA.

66 Townsends' copy testing

In June 1938, A.D. Lasker, president of Chicago agency Lord & Thomas, shocks the industry by resigning the Quaker Oats account, severing a long -running client/agency relationship. The culprit? Copy testing. Townsend & Townsend, a consultancy founded by two brothers, had already ruffled feathers in the ad world with a 27-point proprietary test for evaluating copy, which the pair dubbed "the law of advertising." The event resonates today as a microcosm of the push-and-pull strain of agency/client relationships and in the debate over whether ad creative is a matter of instinct or scientific technique.

Contributing: James B. Arndorfer, Claire Atkinson, Hillary Chura, Robert G. Goldsborough, Jim Hanas, John McDonough, Stephanie Thompson

Next week: Top advertising moments No. 65-No. 61

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