My Advertising Memories
In the mid-twenties in rural areas, the noises around a farm house were crows from roosters, oinks from hogs and bellows from cows. Now a new noise entered the scene. It was a squawk box called a radio. Around 1930, at an early age, I had the mumps, so I was home tied. I was all alone with my mother. She fixed me up on a cot during the day in our all-purpose room. With the radio at full sound, while doing her household chores, she listened to several plays. I can remember Ma Perkins, As the World Goes Around, etc. These were scripted plays with the advertising being soaps – Ivory, Lux, Lifebuoy, etc. The detergent was Rinso. I remember the ditty, Rinso white, Rinso white. Because of the above, these plays were known as soap operas. In the thirties and forties, large roadside barns became an advertising tool. Huge ads would be painted, covering the entire side facing the road. Tobacco companies were the dominant advertisers. The cigarettes of the days were Lucky Strike and Camel. In the ads they were lighted and one could imagine smoke being emitted. Filtered and mentholated brands appeared in later years. For chewing and pipe smoking tobaccos, and snuff, the brands were Copenhagen and Bull Durham. I believe all will remember the string of small signs spread for 200 feet along the roadside. The continuous ditty was advertising Burma Shave. In the 40’s and 50’s, besides the radio media, a hot media was billboards. Thousands of these large wooden structures were built along the main highways of our nation. I seem to remember automobiles, cigarettes and cereal ads. Dominating this media, Ted Turner, the billionaire to be, got his start in billboard advertising. In the sixties, Lyndon Johnson became President upon the death of Kennedy. All Presidents’ wives appear to have a crusade. Mrs. Johnson’s crusade was to beautify the highways across the nation. Billboards were no beauties. So as Jack Kennedy killed the hat industry, Mrs. Johnson killed the billboard media. It really was ready to die because television was taking over. Early radio in the fifties and sixties started the morning with Dave Garroway and Jack Parr. To follow was our old time soap operas, but this time fully acted on the screen. I believe the advertisers were more diverse. Large companies could afford to advertise nationwide, and this went on for years. The autos, previously dormant, now can drive toward you. Jack Armstrong brought you Wheaties. Geritol was there to build our bodies. There were the Clairol Girls and other beauties for many cosmetic lines. Gillette absolutely dominated the sport world with baseball and boxing advertising. In fact, for several years Gillette owned the rights for all World Series Games. Now, T.V. advertising is so expensive, it pretty much limits ads to local areas. The exception is huge sport events such as the Super Bowl. Here it costs Budweiser Beer ½ million dollars for a 30 second ad.