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Special Issue Recaps Three-Quarters of a Century of Marketing History

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NEW YORK ( -- Advertising Age, which has been chronicling the marketing industry since 1930, celebrates its 75th anniversary this week with a special commemorative issue that provides a sweeping look at the history of advertising and its crucial role in shaping modern America.
Ad Age's anniversary edition is a look back at the key moments from 75 years of advertising history.
Companion Feature:
The Events That Defined Our Industry and Helped Shape Our Nation

The March 28 issue of the country's oldest advertising business publication lays out a story punctuated by the 75 big moments that have changed careers, defined workplaces, built brands, made millionaires and defended causes over the last three-quarters of a century.

'Walk through history'
"Those 75 moments may be a look back but they are also a road map forward," said Ad Age editor Scott Donaton. "It's a fascinating walk through the history of the business, and society, and there are threads to follow into the future."

Starting with the arrival of Ad Age in 1930, the 75 moments count down through important points, from the formation of key agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and Ad Council; colossal marketing flops like the Edsel; great ad lines like "A diamond is forever"; the rise of cultural icons like the Marlboro Man; the Cola and Phone Wars; and P&G's Ed Artzt's speech heralding the start of online marketing in 1995.

For instance, a 1968 moment is the infamous "Marbles in the Soup" advertising escapade. Then, a creative team at BBDO, New York, slipped some marbles into a bowl of Campbell's vegetable soup to keep the vegetables from sinking to the bottom during a product photography session. This seemingly innocent effort ultimately sparked a Federal Trade Commission probe and became the basis for the FTC's drive to eliminate false advertising with a practice that allows it to demand "corrective advertising" from a marketer who has made a false claim.

Sam Walton changes America
Another key moment occurred in 1962 when Arkansas five-and-dime chain store owner Sam Walton decided that the discount retail concept is the wave of the future. Mr. Walton and his wife, Helen, put up 95% of the money for the first 16,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store. By 1990, Wal-Mart had become the largest U.S. retailer and a force that has dramatically altered the nation's marketing, advertising and retail supply practices.

The special 75th Ad Age issue looks back at each of the decades since the 1930s and highlights the key people and events in both advertising and popular culture, the top agency and total U.S. ad spending and follows the emergence of new media -- radio in the '30s, TV in the '50s and the Internet in the 1990s.

For example, Advertising Age was on the scene when, on July 1, 1941, the Federal Communications Commission allowed then-experimental TV stations to start commercial broadcasting. But with only one station airing ads and less than 5,000 households in the New York metropolitan area able to see them, Ad Age reported that "the significance of the transition from experimental to commercial broadcasts was largely historical." The outlook for the new medium's expansion was then viewed as bleak.

G.D. Crain Jr.
Eleven years earlier in the equally bleak business environment of the Great Depression, G.D. Crain Jr. had his own vision of the future when he founded Advertising Age as the first trade publication of its kind. Its purpose was to be the "National Newspaper of Advertising."

"Presenting the news of advertising ... has never been the primary, exclusive function of any advertising publication," he explained. "This is the task to which Advertising Age will devote itself." That publication developed into what is today "Crain's International Newspaper of Marketing."

Advertising Age is one of 30 business-oriented titles published by Crain Communications and the flagship of the Ad Age Group that also includes, the Daily E-mail News, Point magazine, the Madison + Vine e-mail newsletter, Creativity magazine and

Ad Age has prospered and expanded over three-quarters of a century because, as Editor in Chief Rance Crain says in the special issue, it knew that "what's best for consumers is best for advertisers, a bedrock editorial position that shapes our judgments to this day."

P&G CEO A.G. Lafley
The 75th anniversary special edition features insights from across the world of advertising and marketing, from aspiring 20-something ad students to perhaps the most powerful individual in marketing, Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley. P&G has been a mainstay in the pages of Ad Age through these 75 years. The package-goods giant has ranked No. 1 in U.S. ad spending in 31 of the 49 annual 100 Leading National Advertisers reports produced by Ad Age.

Besides Mr. Lafley, other luminaries who have written for the 75th anniversary special section include Essence Communications founder and Chairman Ed Lewis, DDB Worldwide Chairman Keith Reinhard and "positioning" guru Al Ries, as well as some of the editors who have helped make Ad Age what it is today.

And what of the next 75 years? "We thrive on change, and marketing is our economy's high-powered engine," Rance Crain says in his Editor in Chief's Note.

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