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The Advertising Century

Ad Age Advertising Century: Timeline

A 295-Year Synopsis of the Most Important Events in American Advertising, 1704 to 1999

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1700s
1704 The first newspaper advertisement, an announcement seeking a buyer for an Oyster Bay, Long Island, estate, is published in the Boston News-Letter.
1729
Credit: Archive Photos
Benjamin Franklin begins publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette in Philadelphia, which includes pages of "new advertisements."
1742 Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine prints the first American magazine ads.
1784 The Pennsylvania Packet & Daily Advertiser, America's first successful daily newspaper, starts in Philadelphia.
1800s
1833
Credit: Corbis-Bertman
Benjamin Day publishes the Sun, the first successful "penny newspaper" in New York. By 1837, circulation reaches 30,000, making it the world's largest newspaper.
1843 Volney Palmer opens the first advertising agency in Philadelphia.
1867 New York agency Carlton & Smith begins buying the right to place advertising in religious magazines.
1868
With $250, Francis Wayland Ayer opens N.W. Ayer & Son (named after his father) in Philadelphia and implements the first commission system based on "open contracts." His clients include Montgomery Ward, John Wanamaker Department Stores, Singer Sewing Machines and Pond's Beauty Cream.
1873 The first convention of advertising agents is held in New York.
1877
James Walter Thompson buys Carlton & Smith from William J. Carlton, paying $500 for the business and $800 for the office furniture. He renames it after himself and moves into general magazine advertising. Later, he invents the position of account executive.
1880 Department store founder John Wanamaker is the first retailer to hire a full-time advertising copywriter, John E. Powers.
1881 Daniel M. Lord and Ambrose L. Thomas form Lord & Thomas in Chicago. The firm eventually becomes Foote, Cone & Belding.
1882 Procter & Gamble Co.begins advertising Ivory soap with an unprecedented budget of $11,000.
1883
Credit: Corbis/Bertman-UPI
Cyrus H.K. Curtis launches Ladies' Home Journal with his wife, Louisa Knapp Curtis, as editor.
1886 N.W. Ayer promotes advertising with the slogan "Keeping everlastingly at it brings success."
1887 The American Newspaper Publishers Association is formed.
1891 The George Batten Co. opens.
1892 N.W. Ayer hires its first full-time copywriter. Ladies' Home Journal bans patent-medicine advertising.
1893
Credit: UPI/Corbis- Bertman
Frank Munsey drops the price of Munsey's Magazine to 10� and the cost of subscriptions to $1, marking the first attempt at keeping a magazine afloat by advertising revenue rather than newsstand sales. Asa Briggs Chandler registers Coca-Cola as a trademark. George P. Rowell of Boston founds Printer's Ink, a magazine that serves as the "little schoolmaster in the art of advertising."
1898
N.W. Ayer helps National Biscuit Co. launch the first prepackaged biscuit, Uneeda, with the slogan "Lest you forget, we say it yet, Uneeda Biscuit." Eventually, the company launches the first million-dollar advertising campaign for Uneeda.
1899 J. Walter Thompson Co. is the first agency to open an office in the U.K. Campbell Soup Co.makes its first advertising buy. The Association of American Advertisers, predecessor to the Association of National Advertisers, is formed.
1900s
1900 N.W. Ayer establishes a Business-Getting Department to plan advertising campaigns based on prospective advertisers' marketing needs.
1904 The Associated Advertising Clubs of America, a group of agencies, advertisers and media representatives, is formed.
1906
Credit: UPI/Corbis Bertman
W.K. Kellogg places his first ads for Corn Flakes in six midwestern newspapers. By 1915, he is spending $1 million on national advertising. Congress passes the Pure Food & Drug Act, forcing product labels to list the active ingredients.
1911
Standard Oil, after being dissolved by the Supreme Court, invites Harrison King McCann to form an agency to service its dispersed divisions. For the first time in its history, P&G pays an outside agency, J. Walter Thompson Co., to launch Crisco, its new vegetable shortening. Woodbury Soap breaks its "The skin you love to touch" campaign in the Ladies' Home Journal, marking the first time sex appeal is used in advertising.
1911 A group of large agencies forms the Association of New York Agents, predecessor to the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
1914
Credit: American Stock/ Archive Photos
The Audit Bureau of Circulations is formed, standardizing auditing procedures and tightening up definitions of paid circulation. The Federal Trade Commission Act is passed, and Joseph E. Davies is named the first FTC chairman. Section 5 allows it to issue cease-and-desist orders against dishonest advertising.
1916
J. Walter Thompson retires; Stanley Resor and a group of colleagues buy him out for $500,000. Resor becomes president, establishes a market research department and closes the London office to save costs. A group of agencies forms the National Outdoor Advertising Bureau, which eventually controls about three-quarters of the outdoor national advertising in America.
1917
Credit: The American Association of Advertising Agencies
The American Association of Advertising Agencies, the first agency trade association, is established with 111 charter-member agencies.
1919 Barton, Durstine & Osborn opens in New York.
1920
Credit: Corbis/Bertman
KDKA, Pittsburgh, becomes the first radio station in the U.S. and is the first to broadcast the results of the 1920 presidential election.
1921 Bozell & Jacobs opens in Omaha.
1922 AT&T's station WEAF in New York offers 10 minutes of radio time to anyone who would pay $100. The Queensboro Corp., a Long Island real estate firm, buys the first commercials in advertising history�four: 15 spots at $50 apiece. Following the ads extolling Hawthorne Court, a new tenant-owned apartment complex in Jackson Heights, sales total thousands of dollars.
1923 Theodore F. MacManus helps Walter Chrysler launch his new car, the Chrysler Six.

National Carbon Co.'s "Eveready Hour" is the first regular series of broadcast entertainment and music to be sponsored by an advertiser.

John Orr Young and Raymond Rubicam form Young & Rubicam in Philadelphia. They move to New York at the request of General Foods in 1926.
1924 Goodrich Tires sponsors the first hourlong show over a network of nine radio stations.
1925 The National Better Business Bureau is organized.
1926
Credit: NBC
Radio Corp. of America buys New York radio station WEAF from AT&T and renames it WNBC. It forms the first radio network with 19 stations within the year, and the National Broadcasting Co. is launched.
1927 Columbia Broadcasting System, a second major radio network, is launched.

The Federal Radio Commission is established.
1928
Credit: Archive Photos
Lintas (Lever International Advertising Services) is formed as a house agency for Unilever in England, Holland and Germany.

Barton, Durstine & Osborn merges with the George Batten Co., forming Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn. With billings of $32 million, it becomes one of the biggest shops.

"The Lucky Strike Dance Orchestra" show, later renamed "Your Hit Parade," debuts over 39 NBC stations.
1929
Credit: Archive Photos
Following the stock market crash, advertising spending plummets. From its high of $3.5 billion, it sinks to $1.5 billion by 1933.

William Benton and Chester Bowles open Benton & Bowles.

American Tobacco Co. spends $12.3 million to advertise Lucky Strikes, the most any company has ever spent on single-product advertising.
1930
Advertising Age is launched in Chicago.
1932
Credit: Archive Photos
William Esty leaves JWT to start his own agency.

George W. Gallup joins Y&R as director of research and develops a widely syndicated opinion poll.
1935
Credit: Stephen Deutch
Leo Burnett leaves Erwin, Wasey to start his own agency in Chicago.
1936 Life publishes its first edition. It later becomes the first magazine to carry $100 million annually in advertising.
1938 Radio surpasses magazines as a source of advertising revenue.

Congress passes the Copeland Bill, which gives the Food & Drug Administration regulatory powers over the manufacture and sale of drugs.
1939
Credit: NBC
NBC experiments with a telecast of TV's first baseball game, Princeton vs. Columbia.
1940 Ted Bates leaves Benton & Bowles to start his own agency, taking the Wonder bread and Colgate dental cream accounts.
1941 With 7,500 TV sets in New York City, NBC's WNBT begins telecasting July 1. The first TV spots, featuring a Bulova watch that ticks for 60 seconds, air as open- and close-time signals for the day's schedule.
1942
Credit: Ad Council
The War Advertising Council is organized to help prepare voluntary advertising campaigns for wartime efforts. The council garners $350 million in free public service messages. After the war it is renamed the Advertising Council.
1943 Albert Lasker liquidates his stock in Lord & Thomas for $10 million, and it reopens as Foote, Cone & Belding.
1946 Frederic Wakeman's "The Hucksters" is published and becomes a bestseller and would later become a film starring Clark Gable.
1947 JWT becomes the first agency to surpass $100 million in billings.
1948 Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather is launched.
1949 Doyle Dane Bernbach opens its doors.
1952
Credit: Lambert
The FCC lifts its ban on new TV stations after problems of signal interference are worked out.

The Advertising Research Foundation endorses A.C. Nielsen's machine-based ratings system for TV.

CBS opens its Television City production facilities in Hollywood.
1953 The Advertising Research Foundation is established.
1954 CBS becomes the largest advertising medium in the world.
1955
The Marlboro Man campaign debuts.
1956 Videotape recording makes prerecorded commercials possible.
1957
In what would be one of the great marketing disasters of automotive history, Ford Motor Co.introduces the Edsel.

Vance Packard's "The Hidden Persuaders," a potent attack on advertising, is published. It stays on the bestseller list for 18 weeks.
1958 The National Association of Broadcasters bans subliminal ads.
1960
McCann restructures its agencies under the banner of Interpublic Group of Cos., allowing it to handle competing accounts under one corporate roof.

Doyle Dane Bernbach introduces the "creative team" approach of combining a copywriter with an art director to create its "Think small" campaign for Volkswagen.

Papert, Koenig, Lois is launched. In 1962, it becomes the first agency to go public.
1962
David Ogilvy publishes "Confessions of an Advertising Man."
1963 "The Pepsi Generation" kicks off the cola wars.
1964 After the U.S. surgeon general determines that smoking is "hazardous to your health," The New Yorker and other magazines ban cigarette ads.

Ogilvy, Benson & Mather merges with London-based parent company Mather & Crowther, to form Ogilvy & Mather.

NBC drops its ban on comparative advertising. ABC and CBS don't follow suit until 1972.
1966 Following a string of account losses, Rosser Reeves, Ted Bates' first creative chief and promoter of advertising that offers a "unique selling proposition," resigns at age 55.
1967
Wells, Rich, Greene is established. Mary Wells is the first woman to head a major agency.
1970
With Interpublic in financial disarray, Marion Harper Jr. resigns in disgrace.

Saatchi & Saatchi is established in London.
1971 The Four A's, ANA and American Advertising Federation launch the National Advertising Review Board to monitor questions of taste and social responsibility in advertising.

Congress prohibits broadcast advertising of cigarettes.
1975 The Federal Trade Commission Improvements Act gives the agency clear power to set industrywide rules and to take knowing violators to federal court to seek civil penalties.
1976
Credit: Gary Camreron/Reuters
The Supreme Court grants advertising First Amendment protection.
1980
Credit: AP
Ted Turner creates CNN.

Congress removes the FTC's power to stop "unfair" advertising.
1981 MTV debuts with frenetic video images that change the nature of commercials.
1982 Gannett Co. launches USA Today.
1986 Needham Harper Worldwide, BBDO International and Doyle Dane Bernbach merge to create Omnicom Group, the largest advertising company in the world.

Bozell & Jacobs merges with Kenyon & Eckhardt.

Saatchi & Saatchi buys Ted Bates Worldwide, becoming the world's largest agency holding company.
1987
Saatchi & Saatchi merges Backer & Spielvogel with Bates to form Backer Spielvogel Bates.

Martin Sorrell sells more than $500 million worth of new shares in WPP Group, allowing him to pay almost $600 million for JWT in the industry's first hostile takeover.
1988 WPP acquires the Ogilvy Group for $864 million, the highest price paid for an agency.
1993
Credit: Corbis/Kevin Fleming
The Internet becomes a reality as 5 million users worldwide get online.

Philip Morris announced plans to cut the price of its flagship Marlboro brand and heavy up on promotional outlays. The move, coined "Marlboro Friday," plunged Philip Morris' shares 23% and reverberated to other package goods stocks.
1994 In the largest account switch in history, IBM Corp. yanks its business from scores of agencies worldwide and consolidates the entire account with O&M.
1995 TBWA and Chiat/Day merge.
1995 Following crises within the organization, Saatchi & Saatchi re-emerges under newly created Cordiant.

As its share price plunges 30%, Maurice and Charles Saatchi leave the agency they founded in 1970.
1997 WPP combines the media operations of JWT and O&M to form The Alliance, the largest U.S. media buyer with more than $2 billion.

Cordiant spins off Saatchi & Saatchi and Bates Worldwide into separate companies.
1998
Credit: Jessica Persson/AFP
The Wells agency shuts its doors.

Cigarette makers and state attorneys general draft a $206 billion deal that curbs marketing and settles lawsuits to recover Medicaid costs.

Interpublic combines its Western International Media with Initiative Media in Paris to create the world's largest media management shop with $10 billion in billings.
1999 Internet advertising breaks the $2 billion mark and heads toward $3 billion as the industry, under prodding from Procter & Gamble, moves to standardize all facets of the industry.

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