Change: The Evolution of Advertising (2)

This post is the sequel of Change: The Evolution of Advertising that ended with the invention of television. It is a semi-automated translation of a text originally written in Spanish.

In 1936 the Germans broadcast the Berlin Olympics, but in 1937 the BBC took the technical lead through an electronic system that alternated the Baird system and the Marconi image tube. Do you remember Marconi? Yes, the same one.

Television Advertising

Television Advertising, as it could not be otherwise, was born in the USA.

The first TV commercial was aired during the break of the baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies, and was broadcast by the US television channel WNBT on July 1, 1941. The advertiser was the watch brand Bulova, which paid… 9 dollars!

The world of commercial communication had entered a frenzy and it seemed like there was no going back. It was growing at tremendous speed.

By the midst of the 20th century we had audiovisual (radio, TV and cinema) and printed media (newspapers, magazines and catalogs) and the incipient POP. David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, Ted Bates and many other advertising tycoons established agencies that grew by leaps and bounds, as the business of its customers grew with the aid of new media systems.

And what happened to the people in the squares? Nothing, really. The squares had received the coup de grace because people were now at home. The new media offered them all the information and entertainment they desired.

ARPANET: the birth of the internet


In 1961, more than a decade before the first personal computers manufactured in garages in Silicon Valley would appear on the market, the American computer scientist Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider published a memo in which he explained his theory about the switching of digital packages.

Only a year later Licklider explained his idea about a global computer network at ARPA, an agency of the American Defence Department. In the Pentagon they saw it as an excellent tool for the transfer of information, and shortly after ARPANET was born. In the middle of the cold war, the internet was born.

ARPANET was technologically surpassed by the ISP that were created during the 1980s and ended up disappearing in 1990. A year later the World Wide Web was announced, and in 2001, the .com bubble exploded. 

The internet revolution

Mail. Economic transactions. File exchange. Information of all kinds available in real time in almost the entire world. In terms of communications, in less than a century, we had gone from the Jurassic to the Modern Era.

With the new media system, a whole new generation of communication professionals emerged that was quickly incorporated by the Marketing, creative and planning teams of brands and advertising agencies alike. Those of us who came from the “previous” generation, had to go “back to school”.

Hundreds of new terms were integrated into the glossary of Marketing communications.

But it did not end there…:

The appearance of social networks

A young Harvard student launched a website called Facemash at the university where he published photos and names of his fellow students. The university authorities decided that he had stolen information from the institution’s data bases and suspended him. A year later, the young man abandoned his academic carreer and devoted himself to the development of his own project. That young student was Mark Zuckerberg, and his project was…: Facebook (originally called The Facebook).

And together with Facebook,YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Snapchat, Badoo, Pinterest and others were born. Today there are no less than 25 active social networks in which billions of people around the world share their lives in more than 70 languages. Mark the date: 2007.

Social networks today are the places where people go to chat, share, show, meet others, play, inform, be informed, etc. What does that sound like? Of course, social networks are the new squares! Everything that people used to do in physical squares they now do on their computers and smartphones.

The change for Advertisers and Agencies

On Social Media, Credibility and Genuineness are key

For advertisers and advertising agencies, the change was enormous. We no longer needed to sit in a Gesell room to watch / listen to 8 people chatting with a sociologist about the taste that the new sponge should have or if pearly red was an acceptable colour for the new car. Now we had social networks.

But just like advertising could not be left out, it was now necessary to adapt not only to a new media landscape, but also to the profound changes in people’s behaviours and their relationship with brands.

What happened is that social networks empowered people who no longer just listened: now they also spoke (… and very much so!), So advertisers and agencies had to learn how to listen.

It was no longer any good to publish a graphic on Facebook or upload the same spot that was broadcast during the TV newscast to Twitter. In the new paradigm, brands had to become human and take responsibility for what they said. In order to attract people’s attention, gain their trust and stay in the top of mind, brands had to talk, listen and answer like real people.

On social networks it is not good to have a top model speak on behalf of the brand, because people know that they are not a valid partner. To win the appreciation of the public, both the messenger and their message have to be credible and genuine. There is no use for a million followers if that number is not reflected on the shelves.

Just like radio marked the beginning of a new Era in terms of communication, social networks marked the end of that same era that lasted only one century.

So, did Advertising evolve? Yes: we went back 100 years.

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