What is advertising? There are many definitions given for this twentieth century art of promoting the sale of products and commodities, each being the product of an individual experience and individual viewpoint.
To the owner of a large department store in a city, advertising has a different meaning from that which attaches to the word in the mind of the manufacturer who is making a product that is sent all over the world and whose market is limited only by the boundaries of civilized society. The field of his operations is the human race, or at least that portion of it which is capable of using the product which he has to sell. To him the art of advertising is a big question. He is concerned with the problem of reaching all kinds of people of diversified tastes and interests in many climes and representing wide and varied types of civilization.
A man who manufactures a farm wagon and who seeks a worldwide market for his product must make a wagon for all kinds of people and for all kinds of countries and for all kinds of service, and to him, therefore, the problem of advertising is a problem of adapting his publicity to all the conditions presented by all kinds of people. The geography of his advertising is continental. His idea of advertising must, therefore, be somewhat different from that of the man who is seeking to reach consumers in the market which is circumscribed by the boundaries of the city or the town; and yet the same principles of practical publicity apply to both problems.
It is also a fact worth noting that the definition of advertising twenty years ago would not be a definition of advertising under its modern twentieth century development, and the reason for this may be found in the fact that the advertising of twenty years ago is not the advertising of today. Speaking in a general way, however, and notwithstanding the fact that mediums and methods have changed, the art of advertising has the same purpose in view and seeks to attain the same ends that were sought when the art was in the infancy of its development.
I would define advertising as the art of acquainting the public with the name, nature and uses of a salable commodity. Here is a definition which it seems to me covers the entire range of publicity in all its ramifications.
Advertising may also be defined as the art of creating a New Want, for successful advertising does not stop with publishing the claims that are made for a product. The advertising must not only tell the possible consumer all about the product, but must create in his mind a desire to possess itin fact, I am willing to go far enough to affirm that advertising which does not create a New Want in many minds is not good advertising.
It is not enough to tell an automobile enthusiast of the good, strong mechanical points in a partitular machine. The advertising should not stop with giving information to those ° who are already interested in automobiles ; it should create “automobile enthusiasm.” In other words, it should imbue the mind of the reader with a longing to participate in the outdoor pleasures and delights of automobiling, for if the sale of the particular machine which is being put upon the market is to be limited to those who are already enamored of the pastime of automobiling, the possibilities of the industry would not justify a very heavy or extended expenditure for publicity.
Take the safety razor as an illustration. There are now many safety razors on the market, but the man who made the first safety razor and ventured to put it upon the market had to spend a lot of money creating a New Want in the minds of men. He had to talk to that portion of the race which grows a beard on its face and which is anxious to escape the tedious and tiresome thraldom of the barber shop. He had to appeal to the universal desire of man to escape the enslavement of the imperial tonsorial fiend who with reckless disregard for his time and patience makes him fritter away precious moments, even hours, in his insanitary shop awaiting his turn in the long procession of victims who have never acquired the gentlemanly practice of shaving themselves.
In other words, the maker of the first safety razor had to lay the foundations for all future business with an educational campaign. At much expense and through the tribulation of possible loss he blazed the way for the manufacturers of safety razors yet unborn. It was his lot to convince masculine mankind that they could emancipate themselves from the despotism of the barber shop. It was his mission to point out the avenue of escape. It was his task to convince bewhiskered humanity that the safety razor was a practical thing; that it was a time-saver, a money-saver, a blessing to tender faces and that it was possible for the man who could not shave himself with the old-fashioned razor to scrape his face quickly and smoothly with this new device.
Thousands of other examples might be adduced to illustrate the fact that modem advertising must seek to create a New Want, and the man who knows best how to do this through the medium of the English language, is the successful advertiser of today.
In its twentieth century development advertising has taken on the dignified, far-reaching, all-embracing name of publicity, a name that easily covers the entire range of methods and devices that may be used to catch and hold the public attention. There is a publicity to which reference is often made in the public prints which is not strictly commercial publicity. In-deed, publicity in a general way may be divided into two divisions, that which brings mere notoriety and that which may be defined as commercial or practical publicity. It is the latter form of publicity only that will be considered in this book. In other words, we are treating only that art which seeks through various forms of publicity to create a new or larger market for a salable product.
Practical publicity for the purpose of this book may he divided into two branches :
(1) General publicity. (2) Direct publicity. General publicity is that form of advertising which seeks through various channels and mediums to dissentmate information regarding a salable product to the end that a demand for it may be created upon the part of consumers, this demand being supplied by the selling agencies whether they be wholesalers, jobbers, retailers or the salaried agents of the concern which is manufacturing or marketing the product.
Direct publicity is that form of publicity which seeks through advertising to sell direct to the consumer without reference to any middlemen, such as wholesalers, jobbers or retailers. Direct publicity, in fact, is “salesmanship-on-paper.” Its purpose is to get orders for the product advertised direct from the consumer without using any selling agency of any kind or description.
It is true that all advertising is sometimes characterized in a general way as “salesmanship-on-paper,” but this is manifestly a mis-statement, for general publicity, in which by far the largest appropriations are expended, is not salesmanship-on-paper in a literal sense. In other words, it does not make the newspaper or magazine advertisement the direct selling agent, but seeks rather to create a demand upon regular established selling agencies or dealers for the product advertised.
This direct publicity is best illustrated by two forms of advertising, the one the so-called mail order advertising and the other, what is known in newspaper parlance as classified advertising. Mail order advertising, in which millions of dollars are annually expended in this country, is that which sells directly to the consumer through orders sent in to the factory or central selling agencies from readers of the advertisements.
This mail order advertising is, indeed, one of the marvelous developments of the modern art of publicity. By means of this “salesmanship-on-paper” many for-tunes have been made and great mercantile establishments have been built up. This development has reached such phenomenal proportions and has become such an important factor in the commercial world as to call for special consideration in other portions of this book.
Classified advertising is the term used to cover all the advertising which usually appears in the “Lost and Found”, “For Sale”, “For Rent”, “Exchange” and “Business Chances” columns in the daily newspapers. This kind of advertising might be defined as the most direct form of publicity in the whole range of modern advertising. It is the only advertising, in fact, which may be accurately “keyed” and from which one may trace direct results. If a man advertises a lost dog or wishes to sell a second hand piano of a certain make and at a certain price he is enabled to know exactly what are his returns from this form of advertising. There is no guesswork about it. The results are definite, concrete. He can tell exactly how many replies resulted from the advertising, and if he finds the dog or sells his second hand piano he is able to figure the cost with a mathematical certainty.