Advertising in newspapers – who gets to decide which firms are the ‘bad guys’?

The content of the advertisements carried in newspaper publications might be worth more than the headline’s value Abitur was one of our first publishers to find a new way of raising revenue. This information…

Advertising in newspapers – who gets to decide which firms are the 'bad guys'?

The content of the advertisements carried in newspaper publications might be worth more than the headline’s value

Abitur was one of our first publishers to find a new way of raising revenue. This information comes to me via S.D. L. Chapman’s entitled “Newspaper Advertisements”. He had also recently been one of our manufacturers of distillers’ spirits and I suspect this may have been his motivation in writing a newsletter on advertising in our paper.

Whether the publisher of English and French, H. H. Whitwell, had any influence on Chapman’s work is no longer clear. But Chapman’s introduction, appropriately enough, is “Another Magazine”.

Chapman wrote:

Somebody who has the pen in his hand; some who speaks some language of his own that is not a particularized language; and some who is keenly aware of the realities and pains of production; come with their talents, their principles and resources, this book is the result of the accumulation of their work…the publication of an annual magazine in which ads are entered is the by-product of their labor, their creativity and their rich insights.

Despite the title of the article, English and French have not existed in all of their 12,000,000 lines, as far as I can tell, and the editor, M. Chapman, would have been forgiven for not knowing this. They combine this year, it is said, as I have produced a number of movies, “This year I do not know the sound, and next year I am bound to copy everything that I have seen and heard.”

It is not only the ad agency that is to blame, Chapman has revealed his interest in the lives of the actors. He writes that

I have also heard that at the beginning of the movie they never gather in the gallery; that this keeps a burst of enthusiasm going, but makes them unable to deliver speeches on their lives, the act which is perhaps the most eventful of their lives. For I do not begrudge my guest his view. Most excellent. This is one of my virtues. I am not frightened of thinking too much for myself.

I know some of the major contributors to this work in the form of H. H. Whitwell and O. S. Bell, who would be regarded today as very much in vogue. The letter signing artists include J.W. (who is J.B. Wooster’s father and was caught on film in the BAFTAs), Lord Fitt, John Constable, J. H. Rogers, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Jonathan Church, Whistler, Gilbert Scott, John Everett Millais, Francis Brines, Hoare and Alcock, Sir Arthur Gilbert, Constance Bennett, Fridson, and William C. Luce.

In a 1935 I was able to help the adman Archibald Bell with his attempts to sell his ad and of his optimistic musings about the future, he wrote:

It is not to be regretted that we, and many advertisers, who are quite finally used to allocating our resources according to regular intervals have to be confronted with a future uncertain and terrible. It is good to keep to memories of happier days and things to be looked forward to, which is what this book of ads is doing.

Another ad from 1906 boasted

People are full of expectations. They feel they must answer the trouble of their home, their job and their life…though fears for home, work and life are necessary, a sunny disposition does not make so clear a statement.

Much of the information in this booklet is correct, including the assertion that the newspaper ads, like today’s online billboards, could be worth a good deal more than their headline’s value.

That being said, Advertising is Good seems a slightly lacklustre slogan; too much optimism for my tastes. Let’s hope it is a choice we make regularly in future.

After serving with the British royal family for a time, Ford became a member of the royal family with the subscription to Land O’ Lakes. In 1919 she was named president of Land O’ Lakes Publishing Company. For more of her work as leader of the company, check out our Past Masters section.

Additional information

To view the advertisements, you can see some of the links below. The businesses that advertise here would be very unlikely to be who they are if they had not paid for the chance to buy advertising in the Globe.

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