History of Graphic Design Essay

History of Graphic Design

Our world of today is dominated by advertisement - History of Graphic Design Essay introduction. Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with billboards, TV commercials and newspaper ads all begging us consumers to try out this new product or that fantastic service. Its purpose as some one once said is ‘to persuade customers.’ This is when one is forced to wonder about the whole point of advertising and whether such a huge need exists for it in the contemporary world.

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The need for advertising in the fast changing and fast moving world of today seems self explanatory. It has become a must in the modern world where everyone has an automatic right to choose. It gives the consumer information about a product (though many believe adverts to be little more then self glorifying pieces of work). It also helps him make the right choice between the multiple brands of everything available to him and encourages competition between companies. Service advertising helps create awareness between countries for example the Indian government spends a sizeable portion of its health budget trying to create better knowledge about AIDS.

Today, with the ascent of the new century, advertising methods have gotten more and more complicated but increasingly effective. The television, radio and internet have all made producers reach out to millions of homes quickly and effectively. But what about the history of advertising? It would be foolish to assume that advertising your product or service was always this simple. The first known form of advertising can be traced back to the Before Christ era where town criers used to announce the news and daily events while walking around cities. In fact, the advertisement of a rented land was found on a door in the ruins of Pompeii.

But my focus here is the nature and types of advertisement in the 19th and 20th century. Volney Palmer created the world’s first advertising agency in Philadelphia in 1841. He did what modern advert agents do: take commission from people and have their adverts published in the newspaper. The most advertised products in the late 19th century were patented medicines. They would allocate over fifty thousand dollars annually as their marketing budget. About 20 years later, taking inspiration from these companies, automobiles, cosmetics and food companies started advertising under brand names: a phenomenon which has continued up till today with firms distinguishing their USPs under their brand names. The first companies to use brand based advertising included Coca Cola, Colgate and Wrigley.

Printed advertisements started to appear in newspapers and magazines as early as the 1800s. But newspapers were considered a luxury at that time and assumed to be affordable only by the gentry. Then from the 1860s, the situation started to change and newspapers became affordable with the invention of the printing press and mass production. Magazines dedicated exclusively to advertising followed suit with reputed magazines such as Reader’s Digest and Ladies Home Journal publishing such issues. But until the 1920s-when the US introduced legal regulations to prevent misleading consumers-advertisement was considered to be an unreliable information source.

The first radio advertisement was broadcasted in 1922 and suddenly there was no looking back for producers who came to realize radio’s potential. Radio’s hold on the advertising world was only broken in the 1950s with the invention of the television.

Many characteristics made early advertising distinctive. Firstly, most of them were only in black and white and still managed to get their message across more effectively then dome of today’s colorful, million dollar budget ads. Secondly, Secondly, there were no legal regulation back in the 19th century which made early adverts display tall claims such as the use of a rosemary tonic which prevented old people form going bald! Another distinctive characteristic was the use of a distinctive old English font which distinguishes early advertisements form the adverts of today.

To conclude, whether anyone likes to admit or not, advertisement has become an integral part of every person’s life today. They are surrounded by them, read them and hear them every day, either unconsciously or consciously. And it sure has come a long way since two centuries ago!

Works Cited

A Book

George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch .Advertising and Promotion. Europe: IPP. (Aug 2008).

Pricken, M. Creative Advertising. London:  Thames & Hudson Ltd. (Jun 23, 2008)


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