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Wednesday, 27 July 2011



Britain's first advert for tea appeared in a London newspaper, Mercurius Politicus. The 1658 ad announced that a "China Drink, called by the Chinese Tcha, by other Nations Tay alias Tee", was sold at the Sultan’s Head coffee house in the City.

The W.E. Roach Company was the first automobile company to advertise in a national magazine. One couldn’t miss their advertising slogan, “Automobiles that give satisfaction!” The car company advertised in the Saturday Evening Post in the early 1900s.

In Britain the phrase “every picture tells a story” became a catchphrase from the 1904 slogan of the same words used to promote Doan’s Backache and Kidney Pills. The picture showed a person bent over with pain.

Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald's first job was with the Barron Collier advertising agency. He wrote slogans for street car cards including regarding a steam laundry in Muscatine, Iowa, "you keep it clean in muscatine".

French inventor Georges Claude patented the neon discharge tube for use in advertising on January 19, 1915.

Eight years later Georges Claude and his French company Claude Neon, introduced neon gas signs to the United States, by selling two to a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles. Earle C. Anthony purchased the two signs reading "Packard" for $1,250 apiece.

Neon lighting quickly became a popular fixture in outdoor advertising. Visible even in daylight, people would stop and stare at the first neon signs for hours, dubbed "liquid fire."

The first recorded use of skywriting for advertising purposes was at the Derby at Epsom Downs, in England in May 1922, when Captain Cyril Turner wrote "Daily Mail" above the track.

The first radio commercial was broadcast on New York City's WEAF (now WFAN) on August 29, 1922. The real estate company Queensboro Corporation Company paid $100 for 10 minutes of air time in which they advertised a new apartment complex in Jackson Heights, Queens, near the just-completed #7 subway line.

A family listening to an early broadcast using a crystal radio around 1920

The first television commercial was broadcast on December 7, 1930 when W1XAV in Boston, Massachusetts broadcasted video from the CBS radio orchestra program, The Fox Trappers. It was an advertisement for I.J. Fox Furriers, who sponsored the radio show.

The phrase “BO” meaning “body odour” was first used in the US in 1933 to promote Lifebuoy soap in radio adverts.

The phrase “five o’clock shadow” referring to the stubbly growth that some dark-haired men acquire on their faces towards the end of the day originates from the 1930s American adverts for Gem Razors and Blades. One commercial includes the phrase “That unsightly beard growth which appears prematurely at about 5pm looks bad”.

Commercial television was authorized by the FCC on July 1, 1941 and NBC television begun commercial operation by its affiliate WNBT New York using channel 1 the same day. The world's first legal television commercial advertisement, for Bulova watches, was aired at 2:29 PM before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The whole thing cost only $9 - $4 for the time on air and $5 for the station charges,

The first car commercial on television was for Chevrolet and aired on June 9, 1946.

WNBT-TV (now WNBC-TV), in New York, broadcast the first local color television commercial on March 9th 1954. The ad was for Castro Decorators of NYC.

On September 22, 1955, UK's first ever commercial television channel, ITV, broadcast its first ever advert, for ‘tingling fresh’ Gibbs SR toothpaste.

In 1955 the hair-colouring brand Clairol adopted the advertising slogan “does she…or doesn’t she?" It had been thought up by advertiser Shirley Polykoff.

Heinz launched the slogan Beanz Meanz Heinz in 1967. The phrase was created by Maurice Drake, who said it was “written over two pints of beer in The Victoria pub in Mornington Crescent”.

In the early 1980s the Reverend Robin Everett suggested advertising slogans on clergy and choir robes as a means of supplementing church income. "The time will come when," the Midlands vicar wrote in his parish magazine, that on mounting the pulpit he will confront the congregation with the slogan, “British Gas.”

In 1987 Playtex premiered the first US TV commercials with real lingerie models displaying their bras and underwear on national television.

The Russian Space Agency charged £281,000 to allow cosmonaut Vasily Tsibliyev to be filmed drinking milk floating in space aboard the Mir space station in 1997. The film was used for an Israeli advert.


Wylie Gustafson received a one-time flat fee of $590 for his famous "Yahoo!" yodel heard on TV commercials in 1996. Six years later he sued and settled for an undisclosed amount.

Actress Kate Winslet's first acting job was aged 12, dancing with the Honey Monster in an advert for Sugar Puffs.

In late 2004, Buz Luhrmann directed the world's most expensive advertisement for Chanel No 5, a 4-minute short film titled No 5: The Film starring Nicole Kidman (who he worked with for Moulin Rouge!) and Rodrigo Santoro. The film ad, about a fairy-tale romance in which Chanel is part of the story but is not what the story is about, cost $42 million and made Kidman a Guinness World Record holder for highest paid actress in a commercial (she netted $12 million). Kidman wore $28m worth of real gems.

The Super Bowl spot for Pitch Perfect 2 reportedly cost the distribution company a total $4.5 million. Given that the budget of the film is $20 million, the short ad used 20% of their entire production cost on 30 seconds of ad time.

Free services like Craigslist have decimated the classified advertising departments of newspapers, some of which depended on classifieds for 70% of their ad revenue. Research has shown that Craigslist cost the newspaper industry $5.4 billion during the first seven years of the 21st century


St Bernadine of Siena is the patron saint of advertising.

Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign, “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

In America you will see an average of 500 advertisements a day.

The average 12 year old american girl has seen about 77, 546 commercials.

By the time a person in the U.S. is 65 years old, he or she would have seen about two million television commercials.

It is illegal to show TV ads for haemorrhoid cream at meal-times in China.

South Korean Broadcasting Law prevents commercials to be run mid-show. Rather than having multiple short commercial break to be run throughout the course of a program, the entirety of the show is played continuously and is followed by a longer commercial break period.

New Zealand bans all advertising on TV on Christmas, Easter, Good Friday and ANZAC Day.

In most advertisements, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10. This because the hands of the watch frame the watch brand name and they make a smiling face.

Big companies pay a small fortune to see their brand used by a character on- screen in movies, but in most of his films director J. J. Abrams inserts a fictional frozen drink called ‘Slusho’ as an in-joke to fans.

Here is a list of songs that have been used in commercials.

Source Dictionary of Phrase & Fable by Nigel Rees

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