From the Great Depression Through the Great Recession: A Brief History of Marketing
A Look at 80 Highlights From Ad Age's First 80 Years, Compiled From Our Archives, Ad Age's Encyclopedia of Advertising and Additional Research
|1930||H.K. McCann Co. (started in 1912) and Erickson Co. (opened in 1902) merged to form McCann-Erickson. Today: McCann Erickson, part of Interpublic Group of Cos., ranks as the nation's second-largest agency.|
|1931||Procter & Gamble executive Neil McElroy wrote a memo outlining the new position of "Brand Man," establishing the discipline of brand management. The system would define how P&G managed competing brands as it came to dominate categories from detergent to shampoo. Mr. McElroy later became P&G president and served as secretary of defense under President Eisenhower.||
|1932||George Gallup joined Young & Rubicam as director of research, the start of his pioneering work in advertising research. In 1939, while still working at the agency, Gallup opened Audience Research Institute, led by David Ogilvy (who went on to found Ogilvy & Mather). Gallup left Y&R in 1947 to focus on advertising research and political polling.|
|1933||The percentage of U.S. homes with a radio passed the halfway mark (55.2%), up from essentially zero in 1921.|
|1934||The Communications Act of 1934 created the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC immediately signaled to broadcasters and advertisers that it was willing to do business with commercial interests -- provided that radio networks and stations aired significant "public interest" programs.|
|1935||Leo Burnett left Erwin, Wasey & Co., Chicago, to open his own agency. Burnett's offices were at 360 N. Michigan Ave., home today to Ad Age's Chicago office. Publicis Groupe in 2002 bought Burnett and the shop's then-parent, Bcom3 Group.|
|1936||Time Inc. bought humor magazine Life and relaunched it as a picture magazine. Life went on to be the first magazine to carry $100 million annually in advertising (see 1972).|
|1937||American Tobacco Co. struck deals with a handful of U.S. senators to endorse Lucky Strike cigarettes. In a testimonial ad, North Dakota Sen. Gerald P. Nye praised the "comfort and safety a light smoke gives my throat." The senators each received $1,000; some gave it to charity.|
|1938||Refrigerators' U.S. household penetration passed 50%, up from just 1% in 1925 and 15% in 1930. Frozen food sales, promoted by General Foods' Birds Eye line, surged during the Depression.|
|1939||RCA demonstrated television at the New York World's Fair, broadcasting President Franklin D. Roosevelt's opening speech. "Television is Here," said the headline on Ad Age's editorial. Ad Age cautioned: "It will take time as well as huge investments in equipment and program facilities to bring television into the home on a basis at all comparable with radio broadcasts."|
|1940||Ted Bates bolted from Benton & Bowles to start his own agency, taking the Wonder Bread and Colgate accounts. WPP in 2003 bought and broke up the Bates network; the brand still operates in Asia as Bates 141.|
|1941||Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. "War Comes to America," said Ad Age's editorial. The magazine wrote: "Advertising will play a great part in the war effort -- in stimulating enlistments, in getting greater distribution of war bonds and savings stamps and in building and maintaining civilian morale."|
|1942||Formation of the War Advertising Council. The council developed ad campaigns to sell war bonds and to promote conservation of goods needed for wartime efforts. After the war, it was renamed the Advertising Council.|
|1943||Foote, Cone & Belding opened, absorbing the business of Lord & Thomas, an iconic agency dating to 1873. Albert Lasker, principal owner of Lord & Thomas, had stunned the industry at year-end 1942 when he announced he was liquidating his agency and passing the operations to Emerson Foote, Fairfax Cone and Don Belding, who had been exec VPs at Lord & Thomas in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively. The agency operates today as DraftFCB, part of Interpublic Group of Cos.|
|1944||War continued, but the nation was looking forward. Ad Age published a weekly section called "Postwar Planning: How Business and Industry Are Preparing for a Peacetime World." Willys-Overland envisioned a burgeoning civilian market for its military jeeps. Ad Age reported: "First Jeeps Go on Sale; Willys Sees Postwar Uses." Fiat-backed Chrysler owns the Jeep brand today.|
|1945||Ad Age published the first Agency Report. Five largest agencies: J. Walter Thompson (now JWT); Young & Rubicam (now Y&R); N.W. Ayer (absorbed by Kaplan Thaler Group in 2002); Foote, Cone & Belding (now DraftFCB); McCann-Erickson.|
|1946||The beginning of the post-war baby boom (a generation later defined as those born in the years 1946-1964). Consumer spending surged 20% in 1946. Telephone household penetration passed the 50% mark.|
|1947||Builder Levitt & Sons opens New York's Levittown, the archetype of suburbia.|
|1948||Post-war air travel was taking off. Northwest Airlines (acquired by Delta Air Lines in 2008) pitched an offer to rebate 5% of the ticket price if a plane was 30 or more minutes late.|
|1949||Ad Age published a 38-page report on "Television -- Infant Advertising Medium -- Where It Stands Today." At the time, just 2% of homes had a TV. There were four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, DuMont) and plans for a fifth (Mutual). DuMont went off the air in 1956; some former affiliates became key stations in News Corp.'s Fox network, launched in the '80s. Mutual, a radio network (absorbed by CNN Radio in 1999), never got its TV network up and running.|
|1950||Ad Age produced a three-part series on Procter & Gamble. It was the nation's largest advertiser ($33.5 million in 1949 U.S. ad spending, equivalent to $305 million in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) and now ($2.7 billion in 2009 measured media, according to WPP's Kantar Media).|
|1951||TV business began to look West. Ad Age headline: "Los Angeles or New York? TV People Wonder Which Will Be TV's Capital." A year later, CBS opened CBS Television City, a TV studio in Los Angeles that operates to this day.|
|1952||Rosser Reeves, developer of the "Unique Selling Proposition" at Ted Bates, created the "Eisenhower Answers America" TV campaign for Dwight Eisenhower's winning presidential campaign.This was the first time a presidential candidate bought TV airtime for brief spots rather than lengthy speeches.|
|1953||Research and press coverage in the early 1950s were drawing a link between smoking and cancer. Reader's Digest's damning 1952 story: "Cancer by the Carton."
Cigarette-industry response? It rolled out filtered cigarettes, which many consumers perceived to be safer than nonfiltered smokes. And the industry created a PR smokescreen: Cigarette makers hired Hill & Knowlton and formed the Tobacco Industry Research Committee, initially housed in the public-relations agency's office. The committee in January 1954 ran a newspaper ad disputing "a theory that cigaret smoking is in some way linked with lung cancer." Hill & Knowlton continued on the tobacco industry's payroll for decades to come.
See internal documents from Hill & Knowlton and tobacco industry.
|1954||TV ad revenue moved ahead of magazines and radio. (TV didn't displace newspapers as the nation's largest ad medium until 1994.) TV household penetration passed the halfway point in 1954, with TVs in 55% of U.S. homes, up from just 0.4% in 1948.|
|1955||Philip Morris hired adman Leo Burnett in late 1954 to relaunch Marlboro in 1955. Philip Morris had sold Marlboro since 1924 as, Burnett wrote, a nonfilter "fancy smoke for dudes and women." New Marlboro would be a filter smoke for the masses.
Burnett noted filter-cigarette sales had tripled "in a year marked by widespread publicity on the possible harmful effects of cigarette smoking." He wrote: "You say to yourself: 'Hmmm, people are afraid smoking cigarettes may harm them. Then all we have to do is tell them that our filter makes cigarette smoking safe and we can lean back and watch the money roll in.'" But he cautioned against that product positioning, advising Philip Morris to emphasize the flavor of Marlboro.
To counter filter cigarettes' "slightly effeminate" image, Marlboro ads showed cowboys and "regular guys." Marlboro in 1962 settled on the cowboy as its exclusive image. The brand went on to be the world's No. 1-selling cigarette.
Read documents from the era at our tobacco papers archive.
|1956||The 4A's and five media trade organizations signed consent decrees with the Justice Department prohibiting the trade groups from encouraging or requiring members to stick to a 15% commission on advertisers' media buys. The decrees, still in effect, helped pave the way for fee-based compensation, negotiated commissions and alternative approaches to compensation.|
|1957||Vance Packard's "The Hidden Persuaders" reached the top of best-seller lists and sparked a public outcry fueled by his unsettling thesis: Advertisers are trying to control people's minds.|
|1958||With the nation digging out of recession, Detroit automakers bankrolled a national promotion with the tagline "You Auto Buy Now," including ads and horn-honking parades. Theme song: "Buy days mean paydays. And paydays mean better days. So buy, buy! "|
|1959||The TV-quiz-show scandal. Charles Van Doren, a big winner on the quiz show "Twenty-One," admitted at a congressional hearing that he had been coached on questions. Further disclosures revealed rigging had infected other quiz shows, including "The $64,000 Question," on which Revlon founder Charles Revson determined the fates of contestants. The scandal changed TV advertising. Previously, a single advertiser would own and sponsor a show, but networks took control of programming, breaking airtime into 30-second spots sold to multiple advertisers.|
|1960||McCann-Erickson President Marion Harper Jr. created the first major agency holding company. "McCann-Erickson has reorganized again," Ad Age said, "with the establishment" -- on Dec. 27, 1960 -- "of a new parent company, Interpublic Inc.," overseeing two agencies, McCann-Erickson and McCann-Marschalk Co.
Ad Age wrote: "Interpublic, the new corporate umbrella, will provide the affiliate companies with management and financial guidance and central services such as personnel and accounting."
The new structure set the stage for Interpublic's 1960s buying spree. But Harper had presaged the move when McCann bought Marschalk in 1954, giving him two agency brands. In a 1954 editorial ("A New Type of Super Agency?"), Ad Age wrote: "If the experiment works, the advertising field can look for the further development of 'satellite' agencies which would actively solicit accounts which other satellites -- or the parent agency -- can't touch because of conflicts."
Interpublic adopted its current name -- "The Interpublic Group of Companies" -- in January 1964, and other holding companies followed.
Marion Harper Jr.
|1961||Ray Kroc bought the McDonald brothers' fast-growing hamburger chain for $2.7 million. McDonald's had introduced its first jingle -- "Look For the Golden Arches" -- in 1960. McDonald's aired its first TV spot and introduced Ronald McDonald in 1963. The chain aired its first national TV commercial in 1967.|
|1962||Discount chains swept the nation. Dime-store operator S.S. Kresge Co. opened Kmart. Rival F.W. Woolworth formed Woolco (closed in 1982). Dayton's, a Minneapolis department store, launched Target. Kohl's opened its doors. And Sam Walton, another five-and-dime retailer, started Walmart.|
|1963||Early 1960s' civil-rights battles were fought not only in such venues as Birmingham, Ala., but also in the gray-flannel canyon of Madison Avenue. One of the first major marketers to take action: Lever Bros., which met with civil rights groups, studied its advertising and asked its agencies for, Ad Age reported, "suggestions for more effective use of Negroes and members of other minority groups in the company's advertising." The marketer ran a commercial for Wisk detergent showing a black boy and a white boy playing baseball.|
|1964||The Surgeon General's 1964 Report on Smoking and Health made it official: Smoking may be hazardous to your health. And so began tobacco's decades-long decline. Cigarette per-capita consumption peaked in 1963, the eve of the January 1964 report.
In 1965, Congress passed the Cigarette Labeling & Advertising Act, requiring tobacco firms to put health warnings on cigarette packs. Major airlines in 1967 stopped passing out cigarettes during flights. Cigarette broadcast advertising was banned in 1971.
In 1964, tobacco companies accounted for seven of the nation's 100 largest advertisers. In 2006, for the first time, not a single tobacco company appeared in Ad Age's ranking of the top 100 ad spenders.
See "The Impact on Public Attitudes of the Surgeon General's Report," a March 1964 study prepared for Hill & Knowlton.
|1965||Grey Advertising joined the Mad. Ave. rush to go public, following the lead of Foote, Cone & Belding (1963) and Doyle Dane Bernbach (1964) in selling stock. Others would follow, including J. Walter Thompson (1969) and Interpublic Group (1971). WPP bought Grey in 2005 for $1,154 a share in cash and WPP stock -- 118 times Grey's split-adjusted IPO price.|
|1966||Wells, Rich, Greene -- and particularly its ambitious chairman, Mary Wells Lawrence -- personified the glamour and excitement of advertising at the height of the 1960s "creative revolution." Lawrence, Richard Rich and Stewart Greene opened the New York shop after leaving Jack Tinker & Partners.
The agency drew attention with its work for Braniff and Philip Morris' Benson & Hedges. Its Alka-Seltzer ads are part of advertising lore: "Plop plop, fizz fizz," "Try it, you'll like it" and "I can't believe I ate the whole thing."
|1967||The debut of the Super Bowl. The bowl game was part of the merger plan of the National Football League and rival American Football League. The first bowl was broadcast on two networks: CBS (which had rights for NFL games) and NBC (the AFL network).
The two telecasts collectively drew the biggest-ever audience for a sports TV broadcast; CBS had 26.75 million viewers and NBC had 24.43 million, according to Nielsen.
Still, the first bowl wasn't a particularly big event for advertisers or agencies. CBS got $85,000 per minute of ad time, somewhat more than its regular-season rate ($70,000). NBC sold its game time for $70,000 a minute.
|1968||Seven-Up Co. launched a campaign from J. Walter Thompson, Chicago, with a new theme: "7-Up, The Uncola."|
|1969||Philip Morris bought Miller Brewing Co., an early example of tobacco industry diversification. (But not the first -- R.J. Reynolds, for example, bought Hawaiian Punch in 1963.)
Investors, worried about the litigation overhang of tobacco firms, never fully bought into the merger schemes. Such deals are now pass�. Tobacco companies have spun off or sold their other ventures and placed bigger bets on tobacco.
Altria Group (the rebranded parent of Philip Morris) isn't fully out of the beer business; it owns 27% of SABMiller. But Altria's focus is tobacco; in 2009, it swallowed smokeless tobacco giant UST.
Reynolds American (RJR's parent) is looking at complementary plays. Last December, it plunked down $43 million for Niconovum, a Swedish "nicotine-replacement therapy" venture whose stated goal is "to become a world leading smoking-control company."
|1970||In its tally of "Ten Who Made Advertising News in the '60s," Ad Age in January 1970 listed eight men, one woman (Wells, Rich, Greene's Mary Wells) -- and "The Computer." Ad Age wrote: "Today, computers are everywhere on the marketing scene: In media research, go-no-go advertising decisions, credit cards, easy credit operations, payrolls -- and on and on."
But some executives were skeptical. A Xerox Corp. executive warned: "We are all in danger of being drowned in data."
|1971||Southwest Airlines launched with service between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Frederick Smith in 1971 incorporated Federal Express; it officially began operations in 1973 with 14 small airplanes in Memphis.|
|1972||Time Inc., part 1: The publisher shut Life, its pioneering weekly photojournalism magazine, after 36 years of publication. Time Inc. revealed the magazine had lost $30 million from 1969 through 1972, with forecasts of higher losses in 1973 and '74. "Three reasons were given for the unfavorable forecasts," Ad Age said. "1) Competition from television; 2) the prospect of the 170% postal-rate increase over the next five years; and 3) the growing popularity of special-interest magazines."|
|1973||Time Inc., part 2: Diversifying beyond its magazine base, Time Inc. took full ownership of Home Box Office. The pioneering cable channel had launched in November 1972 with Time Inc. as a partner. HBO remains part of Time Warner.|
|1974||Time Inc., part 3: The company launched People. With the economy in a severe downturn, Time Inc. couldn't have picked a more challenging period for a launch (except maybe the Depression, when it started Fortune and Life). People attacked its challenges head-on in trade ads. Today, it's the nation's largest magazine in ad pages and measured-media ad revenue.|
|1975||Bill Gates and Paul Allen saw a cover story in Popular Electronics about the MITS Altair, a pioneering build-it-yourself computer kit, and they spotted an opportunity: Microcomputer hardware needs software. They started a company called Micro-Soft.|
|1976||Toyota surpassed Volkswagen as the nation's No. 1 import auto brand, a position it's held ever since. Toyota had flopped in 1957 with its first U.S. entry, the underpowered Toyopet Crown, and it exited the U.S. in 1961. The company returned in 1965 with the four-door Corona, touting it as an affordable, reliable, well-built and fuel-sipping sedan. When oil prices soared in the early '70s, Toyota was ready to go.|
|1977||BankAmericard, a credit card launched by Bank of America in 1958, was rebranded as Visa. Rival MasterCharge followed suit in 1979, changing its name to MasterCard.|
|1978||Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield launched Ben & Jerry's. Unilever bought the ice cream maker in 2000.|
|1979||Carillon Importers and Sweden's Wine & Spirits Corp. introduced Absolut vodka in the U.S. The name was borrowed from Absolute, an inexpensive Swedish vodka . The name was truncated to Absolut. In 1981, TBWA's campaign began with its signature image of the bottle and a two-word pun, the first word being "Absolut." First ad: "Absolut perfection." By 1985, it was the nation's No. 1 imported vodka.|
|1980||Just one in five households (21%) subscribed to cable TV in 1980. But market potential was clear: More than half of houses (53%) were passed by cable wires, meaning a huge upside if cable systems could assemble a channel lineup compelling enough to lure subscribers.
This was launch time for what would become some of cable's biggest franchises: CNN (1980); USA Network (1980); Bravo (1980); Cinemax (1980); MTV (1981); Weather Channel (1982); Lifetime (1982); Disney Channel (1983).
Ted Turner's CNN scored a coup in 1980 when Procter & Gamble, broadcast TV's biggest advertiser, made its first major cable buy, signing an estimated $1 million contract with CNN.
Flash forward: Cable U.S. household penetration topped 50% in 1988. Today, nine of 10 households subscribe to cable TV, satellite or alternative delivery sources. P&G is cable's largest advertiser.
Cable took decades to reach its potential. Cable's household penetration in 1969 was just 6%. That year, Ad Age wrote a major story ("CATV" -- cable TV -- "Under Wraps, Misunderstood, But Potential Basis of Ad Revolution") where cable optimists talked up its potential: "Channel of nonstop morning cartoons, a 24-hour news and information channel ... a sports channel, a time-and-weather channel ... home shopping service ... per-program pay TV." Ad Age's 1969 report noted: "What's to prevent such communication refinements as the electronic newspaper, electronic mail delivery [or] specialized data retrieval via cable?" Today, four of 10 households get their high-speed internet service through cable.
|1981||IBM Corp. introduced the IBM Personal Computer, helping make the desktop PC a standard business tool. Compaq Computer Corp. opened its doors in 1982 to sell the "IBM-compatible" Compaq Portable, paving the way for laptop and notebook PCs. Hewlett-Packard Co. bought Compaq in 2002; IBM sold its PC unit to China's Lenovo in 2005.|
|1982||Gannett Co. launched USA Today as the nation dug out of recession. It was an audacious move; the newspaper industry was contracting with the shutdown of such institutions as the Washington Star and Philadelphia Bulletin. Market after market was consolidating to a single paper.
Against that backdrop, Gannett rolled out USA Today market by market in 1982 and 1983. Its rate base in fall 1982 was just 200,000. More than 60 companies signed as charter advertisers, getting free ad space through March 1983 in return for a paid schedule for the rest of 1983. This allowed USA Today to fill out its pages while establishing distribution and demonstrating color capabilities to advertisers. USA Today in 2009 had a paid circulation of 1.9 million, second only to News Corp.'s The Wall Street Journal.
|1983||Ameritech, one of AT&T's Baby Bell spinoffs, switches on the nation's first cellphone system in Chicago. The percentage of households owning wireless phones passed 50% in 2005, according to government data. Wireless-phone household penetration in 2009: 82%.|
|1984||Apple introduced Macintosh with its "1984" Super Bowl commercial. The spot, created by Chiat/Day, featured a female hammer-throwing champion who used her strength to destroy a Big Brother-like video monitor -- read: IBM -- while row upon row of clone-like individuals looked on. The ad helped turn the Super Bowl into as much an advertising event as a game. The celebrated commercial ranks as one of the most memorable and discussed ads of all time.|
|1985||Coca-Cola Co. in April introduced a new formula for its signature soda, betting a sweeter taste would appeal to consumers who had taken the Pepsi challenge and preferred Coke's sweet nemesis. The marketer planned to discontinue the old formulation in favor of "new Coke."
The decision came to be seen as one of the classic marketing blunders of the 20th century. Pepsi gleefully ran ads saying: "The other guy blinked."
Coca-Cola was hit with a PR disaster and consumer revolt. In July, the marketer returned the old formulation to the market under the name Coca-Cola Classic. The company's president appeared in ads to apologize for underestimating consumers' passion for the original formula.
After this expensive lesson, the company began to treat Coca-Cola as a "megabrand," subsuming its various and growing extensions within one marketing concept.
|1986||In the decade of the deal, the agency deal of the decade came when Doyle Dane Bernbach of New York and Needham Harper Worldwide of Chicago merged to form DDB Needham and simultaneously joined with BBDO to form Omnicom Group, a holding company that began with some of the most prized creative agencies in the business.|
|1987||Martin Sorrell in the '80s used Wire & Plastic Products, a British maker of baskets and household wares, as the publicly traded entity on which to build an agency giant. WPP's first big deal: J. Walter Thompson, snared in 1987 for $566 million. In 1989, Sorrell made a run at Ogilvy Group, acquiring it for $864 million. In 2000, he paid $4.7 billion for Young & Rubicam.|
|1988||Sears, IBM and CBS -- at the time, the nation's No. 1 retailer, PC marketer and TV network, respectively -- in the mid-'80s began development of an ambitious online service that would offer news, information, electronic shopping and e-mail. CBS eventually dropped out; Sears and IBM brought the service to market as Prodigy in 1988. Prodigy was a key player in the pre-internet days of online, but it eventually ended up as an also-ran to AOL. Sears and IBM in 1996 sold Prodigy, which today exists as a dormant brand owned by AT&T.|
|1989||Toyota launched Lexus, creating a step-up brand well-positioned for boomers seeking luxury in a Japanese car. Tagline from Saatchi & Saatchi spinoff Team One: "The relentless pursuit of perfection." In 2009, Lexus was the nation's top-selling line of luxury cars/light trucks, ahead of rivals such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors' Cadillac, Honda's Acura and Nissan's Infiniti.|
|1990||General Motors introduced Saturn, promoted by Hal Riney & Partners as "A different kind of company. A different kind of car." Saturn's innovative no-haggle pricing and strong customer service made the brand a hit with consumers. But GM for a long stretch failed to reinvest in the product, damaging Saturn's competitive position. After GM filed for bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, the automaker tried to sell the Saturn operation. When a potential sale fell through in September 2009, GM shut the doors on its once-promising brand.|
|1991||Chipmaker Intel Corp. launched "Intel Inside" as a global ad campaign -- and, far more important, as a co-op program rebating money to Intel customers -- PC makers -- that agreed to include the "Intel Inside" logo in print and TV ads (and later in online ads).
With this program, Intel redefined a market and built a truly global brand. The effort proved a mixed blessing for PC manufacturers: Intel heavily subsidized their advertising, but the program essentially turned PCs into commodities where the brands on the inside -- Intel chips, Microsoft software -- were as important as the brand on the box.
Intel in 2009 spent $1.39 billion on worldwide advertising -- with much of that money going to the co-op program.
|1992||Starbucks, a Seattle-based chain of 165 coffee stores, completed its initial public offering. Today, Starbucks has 16,700 stores worldwide.|
|1993||Apple in 1993 introduced its much-hyped -- and much-ridiculed -- Newton, the "personal digital assistant" grandly promoted by then-CEO John Sculley. By the time Newton reached its first birthday, Sculley was gone from Apple. Ad Age wrote in 1994: "The original Newton MessagePad personal communicator was a good first try at a technology but a marketing disaster. ... Apple erred in overselling Newton, pouring millions ... into TV and magazine ads ... for a device years away from Mr. Sculley's mass-market dreams."
Apple kept plugging away on Newton until dropping development in 1998. Apple hardly gave up on handheld devices: iPod in 2001, iPhone in 2007, iPad in 2010. (See 2003 entry.)
|1994||Ad Age calls it "the year of the internet." And what a year.
February: The first successful search engine launched as Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web; before long, it became Yahoo ("Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle").
May: Procter & Gamble Chairman-CEO Ed Artzt stunned the American Association of Advertising Agencies' annual meeting with a keynote speech declaring that the ad industry is in for its greatest period of upheaval and warning that agencies must confront a "new media" future.
July: Jeff Bezos incorporated Amazon.com.
October: The first banner ad ran -- an AT&T Corp. ad placed by Modem Media (now Publicis Modem & Dialog) on HotWired, a website sibling of Wired magazine (now owned by Cond� Nast).
Photo: Dean Rutz
|1995||It's only a retooled operating system, but Microsoft Corp. turned the introduction of Windows 95 into a global event. The company backed the product with a TV ad blitz (from Wieden & Kennedy) rocking with the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up."
Microsoft marketing staffers around the world hyped the product with publicity stunts -- bathing the Empire State Building in Windows 95 colors, painting the logo on fields in the U.K., floating a four-story-high Windows 95 box in Sydney's harbor.
The world was primed when Windows 95 appeared, with media covering the debut at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 24, 1995, in stores around the globe. "This is a historical moment," Microsoft executive Brad Chase told Ad Age minutes before a store opened at midnight near Microsoft's suburban Seattle headquarters. "I don't want to be too melodramatic, because it is only software. But it is pretty amazing."
|1996||Twenty-year-old Tiger Woods turned pro and signed five-year endorsement deals with Nike ($40 million) and Titleist ($20 million). Nike launched its first Tiger Woods campaign in The Wall Street Journal with a three-page ad and the tagline, "Hello, world."
Ad Age, naming Woods to its 1997 Marketing 100 roster, wrote: "The way to handle a raging phenomenon such as Tiger Woods is the same way one would handle a real tiger: carefully." Woods, bruised from his personal affairs, is betting in 2010 that a return to April's Masters will put him back on top of his game.
Photo: Gary Hershorn
|1997||Prescription-drug marketers scored when the Food and Drug Administration loosened its tight rein on direct-to-consumer TV advertising, requiring them to list only major side effects. This was a landmark event in pharmaceutical-ad history, unleashing a boom in DTC ads. Pharma ad spending exploded almost immediately, shooting to $1.2 billion in 1998 from $12 million in 1989.
Drug makers in 2009 spent $4.9 billion on U.S. consumer advertising, including $2.9 billion on TV, according to measured-spending data from Kantar Media.
|1998||The nation's top four cigarette marketers and 46 states signed the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, settling lawsuits states had brought against the industry to recover tobacco-related health-care expenses.
The four companies -- Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, Lorillard -- agreed to pay an estimated $206 billion and to put limits on marketing. (Reynolds and B&W have since merged into Reynolds American.) As part of the settlement, participating tobacco makers agreed to many ad curbs.
|1999||Dot-com boom ...|
|2000||Dot-com bust. Exhibit A: Pets.com. February 1999: Company launched. February '99: Raised $50 million and hired TBWA/Chiat/Day. August '99: Debut of Socket Puppet ads. January '00: Pets.com was one of 17 dot-coms to blow money on Super Bowl ads. February '00: Pets.com had initial public offering. November '00: Facing mounting losses and dwindling cash, Pets.com liquidates.|
|2001||America Online bought Time Warner in the biggest -- and one of most ridiculed -- deals in history. AOL Time Warner in September 2003 truncated its name to Time Warner. The company in 2009 busted itself apart, spinning off Time Warner Cable and AOL as separate firms. Time Warner, long the nation's biggest media company, is now a more defined and refined No. 4.|
|2002||Interpublic Group of Cos. revealed problems with its internal accounting, setting the stage for a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry, a series of financial restatements and a wrenching period of change in management and organization.
Interpublic in 2007 completed a plan to fix "material weaknesses" in financial controls, and the company in 2008 reached a settlement with the SEC.
|2003||Apple was named marketer of the year by Ad Age based largely on the success of its iconic iPod. Apple introduced iPod just weeks after 9/11 while the nation was still slumped in its 2001 recession.|
|2004||Google, founded in 1998, held its initial public offering. Also in 2004: Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook as a place for his fellow students to connect.
Google market cap today -- $177 billion -- is more than the combined value of Disney, News Corp., Time Warner and Yahoo. Facebook is still private.
|2005||Under a federal antitrust pact, American Telephone & Telegraph Co. in 1984 broke up into eight companies: AT&T Corp. and seven local phone companies. Since then, one of the seven -- SBC Communications (originally Southwestern Bell) -- has largely reassembled Ma Bell.
In 2005, SBC bought AT&T Corp. and adopted a new corporate name, AT&T Inc. SBC had previously swallowed two Baby Bells (Ameritech, Pacific Telesis Group). In 2006, it absorbed BellSouth; that deal gave new AT&T full ownership of wireless firm Cingular, renamed AT&T Mobility. In 2009, Verizon was the nation's No. 2 advertiser and AT&T ranked fourth, according to Kantar Media.
|2006||Amazon.com sales topped $10 billion as the retailer continued its ascent. Jeff Bezos incorporated the business in 1994, opened the store in 1995, went public in 1997 and survived the dot-com crash. Sales in '09: nearly $25 billion.|
|2007||Broadband household penetration passed the halfway mark in 2007, reaching 54% at year-end '07, estimates the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Penetration was 65% in early 2010, according to an FCC report. Just 1.7% of house-holds had broadband in 1999, the eve of the dot-com bust.|
|2008||"The fundamentals of our economy are strong," presidential candidate John McCain said Sept. 15. By October, he was calling this "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."What happened in 2008? Government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; rescue of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America; bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers; bailout of American International Group; and the biggest U.S. bank failure in history, Washington Mutual (acquired by JPMorgan Chase). JPMorgan also absorbed Bear Stearns; BofA took over Countrywide Financial; Wells Fargo acquired a weakened Wachovia Corp.|
|2009||The year of Chapter 11. General Motors and Chrysler entered -- and quickly exited -- bankruptcy reorganization. Debt-laden media firms, upended by recession and a changing media market, lined up at bankruptcy court. Among firms on Ad Age's 2008 ranking of the nation's 100 Leading Media Companies, 14 filed for Chapter 11 from December 2008 through January 2010; 11 of the 14 filed in 2009. The list consists of eight newspaper publishers (led by Tribune Co.), two magazine firms (Reader's Digest Association, Source Interlink), two yellow-pages firms (SuperMedia, R.H. Donnelley), one radio broadcaster (Citadel Broadcasting) and one cable operator (Charter Communications).|
|2010||The economy, consumer spending and ad market show signs of improvement. The job market continues to be weak. But the Great Recession of 2007-2009 -- the longest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s -- gives way to a modest recovery.|