Advertising has ancient tradition. First advertisements were oral of course – people simply tried to encourage the clients telling them about the advantages of the product. The oral tradition was continued in the Middle Ages, when merchants paid people to shout the prices of their products.

In the ancient times there were advertisements on papyrus in Egypt and on the rocks (Indians). When printing developed in the 15th and 16th centuries, the time for real advertising finally came. In the 17th century advertisements started to appear in weekly newspapers in England. The most popular products advertised were medicines, but also books.

In the 19th century, with development of economy and technology, also advertising developed. At this time, the most popular were very small advertisements which simply gave information about the product. The small format was not so expensive and very successful. In 1843 the first advertising agency was opened in Philadelphia. The agencies at the beginning simply sold space in newspapers only, later they became responsible also for the content.

Now advertisements are much bigger and more colourful than before. There is more impact of a photo or design than of the text. The viewer often has to discover the message himself. Half of a glossy magazine (at least) are advertisements, and they take more and more time on TV. Will we live up to times when the speaker will tell us that in the break between commercials we will see a film? Perhaps.

The 20th century is the century of advertising, with a more scientific approach to advertising. In the 20th century bigger and more beautiful advertisements appeared, with all the theories of what is going to work and what is not and how to produce a good advertisement. In fact this is the era of the whole advertising campaigns.
In the twenties the radio advertisements appeared, and in the 50- fiftee’s television developed. The social advertising, with billboards and television commercials against domestic violence, drunk driving and calling for tolerance or energy conservation belong to the last decades of the 20th century.

Improve your vocabulary!

advertising – reklama
by word of mouth – z ust do ust, pocztą pantoflową
oral – ustny
merchants – kupcy
finally – wreszcie, w końcu
medicines – leki
glossy – na błyszczącym papierze, lśniący
commercial – reklama telewizyjna


Quiz for dessert

To see whether you are good at advertising, do this short quiz. Match the advertising slogans with the products.

1. Designed to save lives.
2. There is a bit of the West in all of us.
3. For all the places you’ll go.
4. The architects of time.
5. Enjoy the stay. Love the shine.
6. To say I love you.
7. Made for movies.
8. You can’t eat without it.
9. It is. Are you?
10. For unstoppable babies.

a) Independent Newspaper
b) Wrangler jeans
c) Swiss watches
d) Huggies nappies
e) ice cream tubs
f) Heinz Tomato Ketchup
g) Volvo car
h) shoes
i) Estee Lauder lip gloss
j) cat’s food Sheba

1. g, 2. b, 3. h, 4. c, 5. i, 6. j, 7. e, 8. f, 9. a, 10. d