Among the mediums of publicity for the advertisement of salable commodities the newspaper and the magazine easily stand first. The most ardent advocate of other forms of advertising will hardly care to openly challenge this statement. Indeed, they are the only mediums through which the producer or seller may reach effectively and convincingly any consider-able body of the intelligent purchasing classes. Other mediums may be found to secure wide and profitable publicity for certain articles, but as a general proposition it is safe to affirm that they are useful as auxiliary or supplementary agencies, to back up the real educational work of the magazines and newspapers. Proceeding upon this generally accepted hypothesis it is interesting to consider the special merits of each and to institute comparisons of advertising values.
While I was in charge of some special publicity work for the St. Louis Exposition I dropped in upon a gathering of advertising men in Festival Hall just in time to hear two well known advertising men discussing with much apparent acrimony the comparative values of newspapers and magazines as advertising mediums.
One represented a magazine; the other was advertising manager of a big Chicago newspaper. One claimed that the magazine was the better medium for an effective publicity campaign; the other maintained that the newspaper was the only place for the advertiser who really wanted to market his goods.
Each was good in his own line and each sincere and earnest in the advocacy of his own medium, but neither of them had ever handled an appropriation for advertising a particular product. Neither of them had ever grappled with the problem of enlarging the market for a particular commodity. If either of them had expended his own money or someone else’s money in trying to increase the sales of a product through various plans of publicity be would not have torn his hirsute in hectic frenzy over the relative value of the newspaper and the magazine as advertising mediums.
For two advertising managers to attempt to array the magazine and newspaper interests against each other in destructive antagonism is no less absurd than would be the action of a great general who ordered his artillery to turn its guns upon the infantry.
The magazine and the newspaper have their distinct values as advertising mediums and each is essential to the profitable and effective exploitation of nearly all commodities that are offered for sale, for each calls for a different line of copy and for a different plan of campaign. To run magazine copy in a newspaper or newspaper copy in a magazine is like advertising “baby food” in the Bachelors’ Bugle or advertising electric fans in Labrador. A man who went up and down Fifth Avenue, New York, peddling baby carriages would soon be arrested as a lunatic and put under restraint for the general safety of the public. If he were offering a new line of expensive toggery for bull pups, however, he would be regarded as a sagacious and enterprising business man.
There are several things for the advertiser to bear in mind, however, before entering upon an advertising campaign in the newspapers. Among them are these:
1. Newspapers are read by busy people.
2. The life of the daily newspaper is only twenty-four hours at most.
3. Its circulation is local, not national.
If you catch the eye and the thought of the news-paper reader you must catch it quickly. The mental attitude of a man who is reading a newspaper is different from the mental attitude of a man who is reading a magazine. His mind is engrossed in business or in the affairs of the day. You cannot hope to interest him in arguments that require much serious thought or study. If he gets an impression from the advertising he must get it quickly and easily.
As the newspaper has a short life, seldom extending over twenty-four hours, it is a waste of money and space to attempt to cover every phase of your proposition in one issue of the newspaper. Newspaper advertising, instead of carrying all of the manufacturer’s or dealer’s “story” in one issue should extend the educational campaign over a series of papers, adding a new argument each day and multiplying impressions until the reader has become convinced.
No matter what the advertising manager of the big newspaper may tell you, it is well to keep in mind the fact that its circulation, after all, is only local. It covers the city in which it is published and a certain amount of contiguous and surrounding territory much better than any magazine can cover it, but it does not reach out over the entire Union as does the popular magazine of national circulation. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. Some daily newspapers have national circulation; but no matter how great the circulation of a metropolitan daily, it is easily possible to draw a circle around the city in which it is published which will very clearly mark the circumference of its densest circulation.
The logical deduction from all this is that whether the advertiser uses the daily newspaper or not must Newspaper depend largely upon the commodity he style for News- has to sell, and that if he does use the paper Copy newspapers he must understand that they call for a different line of copy and for a different plan of campaign from those which would be successful in the magazines.
Even those who read both the newspapers and the magazines invariably reserve their leisure moments or their hours of reflection for the magazine. In any event, those who have “the magazine habit” represent a distinct class of readers and must be reached in a distinct way.
The mental attitude of the man who is reading a newspaper is different from the mental attitude of the man who is reading a magazine. If you catch the eye or the thought of the newspaper reader you must catch it quickly. You must catch it in a newspaper way and in a newspaper style. You cannot hope to make more than one or two impressions in one advertisement. Neither can you hope to interest him in arguments that require very much serious thought. His mind is en-grossed in business or in the affairs of the day. It is sometimes best, therefore, to try to reach him through the channels of his daily interest and thought.
The “human interest” idea should pervade the advertising copy which appears in a daily newspaper. It should center around some event or occurrence of popular interest. Of course this is not true of all newspapers or of all newspaper readers. In the smaller towns and cities the newspaper is more apt to be a family journal, al-most taking the place of the magazine, and, going into the home as it does, is much more carefully and thoroughly read than the metropolitan daily. Here is another chance for differentiation in newspaper copy. I have always contended that the advertising copy for a Chicago or New York paper should be entirely different in tone and style and matter from that of advertising copy for an evening paper printed in Rockford, Ill. In considering this question in its broader aspects I am necessarily speaking of the general aver-age of humanity. We must content ourselves with general propositions in a book of this scope.
It is useless to indulge in lachrymal jeremiads over the importance of the advertising man or manager in the newspaper office. His increasing ascendancy has come along with the natural evolution from “journalism” to the newspaper industry. The modern successful newspaper is a commercial proposition. The owner of a newspaper is engaged in buying raw paper and the news of the day and selling the same at a profit. To enhance his profits he sells advertising space to those who are engaged in the business of merchandizing. The owner or editor of a paper may maintain the beautiful and impressive bluff of running a journal to influence public opinion, to purify polities, to elevate public morals and to reorganize the social structure in general. If he is in earnest he may soon sink a million. If he is using the editorial page as a cloak for a legitimate commercial enterprise and not to put politicians in office or to tell the people how to think and how to vote he will not have to issue bonds to meet his obligations.
The state does not endow the newspaper as it does universities and public schools. It is foolish, therefore, to regard the modern newspaper as purely an educational enterprise.
The increasing importance of the advertising manager and of the writer and originator of advertising is to be expected as one of the natural evolutions of the publishing business which have placed the modern newspaper upon an independent and profitable basis.
The editorial writer is called upon from day to day to write upon a wide range of subjects concerning which the most erudite writer can have but a smattering of knowledge. There is little time for exhaustive or careful investigation of each subject. The man who is directing publicity for one product is permitted to give his entire thought and study to that product and its publicity possibilities. He can centralize and specialize. This specialization is the key-note of modern progress in all departments of human endeavor.
Specialization is what makes the advertising pages of the modern magazines more interesting than all the other pages. The advertising calls for the best literature and art. They must have the best pictures by the best artists and the copy must be clean, terse, and lucid English. The average editorial on the aver-age editorial page of the modern newspaper might easily be “boiled down” to four or five sentences.
This does not mean that they should be boiled down. The public generally likes an editorial which spins out the subject to some length, in a succession of well turned and smooth rounded sentences. It does not always demand brevity in newspaper writing, but when you come to presenting all the arguments for a particular product within the limits of a magazine page the boiling down process becomes necessary and it must be skillfully and cleverly done.
Condensation requires much time and study. When asked to write a short editorial upon a certain subject of popular interest the late Charles A. Dana of the New York Sun replied that he “had no time to write short editorials.” He might dictate a long editorial in half an hour, but a short editorial, full of pith and point, might require a day or two of careful and painstaking labor. The man who writes copy for a page of magazine advertising must say a great deal in a few sentences and must say it in a way to reach the average intelligence.
The life of the average magazine is from thirty to ninety days. That is, the average magazine will lie around the average home or the average club all the way from thirty to ninety days, and during that time its advertising pages are repeatedly scanned by members of the family, by visitors, neighbors or members of the club.
In some homes, indeed, the magazines are not put away until the end of the year, while in others they are carefully laid away each month as soon as a new number arrives. The advertisement for a newspaper may be like a street car sign, simply a reminder of the product, while the magazine advertisement must appeal to the reflective mind. The magazine page is the place to tell us that there must be marked differentiation between newspaper advertising and magazine advertising.
Let us take the advertising for shredded wheat as a concrete example of this. One is a magazine advertisement, good for all times of the year, which appeals directly to a class which constitutes a large percentage of the magazine readers.
The other is an advertisement to occupy a quarter-page space in the metropolitan daily newspaper. It takes advantage of the popular interest in the Russian-Japanese War, and should appear directly after some important engagement, like the Battle of Mukden. Whether the average newspaper reader reads it all through or not he can hardly fail to get the impression that there is some connection between the victorious Japanese army and shredded wheat products.
Magazine advertising is the artillery that begins the engagement. It carries the big guns of general publicity, presenting the strongest arguments in favor of the general proposition. Behind it is the never ceasing “ping-ping” of the advertising infantry represented by the newspapers that go daily into the homes of the people. Both are needed for an effective and profitable advertising campaign for any commodity.