Advertising in the 20th Century
Advertising as it is known today finds its roots in the industrial expansion of the 1880s - Advertising in the 20th Century introduction. The mass production and the lowering of prices on consumer goods meant that more items were available to more people than ever before. The construction of the transcontinental railroads provided a national market for a company’s goods. Advertising a product changed from simply announcing the existence of a product in a dull, dry fashion to persuading the public they needed and deserved to own the product.
By developing repeat customers, advertising also helped build brand loyalty for the company. Brand loyalty helps sell other existing and new products to these same customers. | | At the peak of the 1920’s, new industries were emerging in the consumer culture which in turn sky-rocketed the advertisement business. Technological advances in consumer culture included the “emergence of the radio, automobiles, chemicals, movies, drugs, and electrical refrigeration. Advertising became pivotal at this point because so many new products and services were beginning to be offered. Brand recognition and buying on installment plans also surfaced during the era and became essential to consumer spending and economy. Seven Up was a new company and a new product and relied heavily on advertising to make the product profitable. Originally named “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda”, 7 Up was launched two weeks before the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The product’s name was soon changed to 7 Up some three months later.
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The Great Depression was just the beginning of the business challenges the product would face. In its early years, “there were around 600 lemon-lime beverage brands being sold in the US. ” “7 Up was able to survive and become the market leader in the category by being one of the first to be nationally distributed as well as being marketed as healthier than other soft drinks. ” More commonly the new forms of authority appealed by advertising were blatantly medical. The white-coated doctor became a ubiquitous figure in advertising of the 1910s and 1920s.
In an 1931 7 UP ad that was printed in the Ladies Home Journal, a proud ad boasted that doctors prefer 7 UP to the leading brand of soda (Coca Cola), this sole advertisement sky-rocketed the sales of 7UP, “seeing a 64% increase of profit the next year. ” “In earlier times and other places, the quest for health had occurred within larger communal, ethical, or religious frameworks of meaning. By the late nineteenth century those frameworks were eroding. The quest for health was becoming an entirely secular and self-referential project, rooted in peculiarly modern emotional needs. As the economy took off in the 1920’s so did another way of consuming goods and services which was by purchasing through installment plans. An installment plan is a credit system by which payment for merchandise is made in installments over a fixed period of time. In the 1920’s, the items people could purchase with an installment plan included, automobiles, automobile parts, household appliances, radios, phonographs, pianos, and furniture. People were able to purchase goods in a way that were virtually impossible before.
This allowed the lower classes to obtain these goods that were sold as vital to survival and sometimes out of sole comfort. Advertisements in the early twentieth century were basic, simple, and retained the quality of the product. As the 1920’s progressed more information was being printed on the advertisements that provided more purposeful information. Early 7 Up ads were simple and joyous pictures of people enjoying the soda while exerting a feeling of happiness that the certain product had created.
As time went on the advertisements became more complex with lengthy paragraphs that tell you why you need the product, what the product can do for you, and the social and medical benefits the product offers. “They provided more objective information about the product than subjective information about the hopes and anxieties of the consumer”. In the reading, “Apostles of Modernity” the author makes a claim that early advertisements were playing off of social anxieties the American public was experiencing at the time due to the shift in norms and values of the evolving American society.
Lears explains, “by the early twentieth century that outlook had begun to give way to a new set of values sanctioning periodic leisure, compulsive spending, apolitical passivity, and an apparently permissive morality of individual fulfillment. ” The older culture was suited to a production-oriented society of small entrepreneurs; the newer culture epitomized a consumption-oriented society dominated by bureaucratic corporations. ” Scare copy advertising became prominent as the decade progressed. Negative appeal, scare copy sought to jolt the personal consumer into a new consciousness by enacting dramatic episodes of social failures and accusing judgments”. Once the dramatic motion was made by the ad it stepped in to offer its help, like a friendly neighbor. T. J Jackson Lears goes on to explain what those social suspicions entailed, “Social fears, too, were more overtly addressed. Before about 1920, Listerine antiseptic presented itself as a wound dressing; after that time it became an antidote for “halitosis,” cautioning any young man whose wife rejected his advances to “suspect yourself first! Dialectic developed between Americans’ new emotional needs and advertisers, strategies, each feeding off and more importantly became dependent on each other. Advertising became important to the evolution of the American consumer culture, it began the era of mass consumption that we still are involved in today. From threatening social status to a person’s health advertisements have been effective reaching the minds of the American people and making it a dominant market, for today and tomorrow.