French con­nec­tion

Finweek English Edition - - News -

THOSE FROM AN An­glophile back­ground tend to re­gard the English-speak­ing world as the cul­tural cen­tre of ad­ver­tis­ing. But a his­tory of ad­ver­tis­ing called Born in 1842 fo­cuses at­ten­tion on a dif­fer­ent Euro­pean, and specif­i­cally French, vi­sion. Pub­lished by the Paris-based Publi­cis Groupe pri­mar­ily for in­ter­nal dis­tri­bu­tion, it’s truly a global his­tory of ad­ver­tis­ing since 1842 – when the doors of the world’s first ad­ver­tis­ing agency were opened by Vol­ney B Palmer in Philadel­phia.

Palmer’s agency later be­came part of Publi­cis, which to­day is one of the big four mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions groups along­side WPP, In­ter­pub­lic and Om­ni­com.

Though global and aca­demic in scope, ex­am­ples of ad­ver­tis­ing, brand­ing and mar­ket­ing are drawn from past and cur­rent agen­cies and clients of the group, which in­clude Lon­don Press Ex­change, Saatchi & Saatchi, Dancer Fitzger­ald Sam­ple, Leo Bur­nett, Fal­lon McElig­ott, BBH and Hal Riney – a pretty good cross-sec­tion of the world’s best agen­cies over the past 170 years.

In­cluded is the story of the De Beers slo­gan: “A di­a­mond is for­ever”. One of the great cam­paigns of ad­ver­tis­ing his­tory, it was cre­ated by NW Ayer & Son, which be­came an­other Publi­cis agency. The cam­paign, launched in 1949, helped re­verse the de­cline in pop­u­lar­ity of di­a­monds in en­gage­ment rings un­til, by 1951, di­a­monds were the choice of 80% of en­gaged cou­ples. Great artists, in­clud­ing Pi­casso, il­lus­trated the ads, fol­lowed by the great­est pho­tog­ra­phers of the day, such as Richard Avedon and Irv­ing Penn.

An­other fas­ci­nat­ing story is the in­ven­tion of Fa­ther Christ­mas. The bluff, ev­ercheer­ful, red-coated, white-bearded, rosy­cheeked fig­ure we know so well was a cre­ation of the ad in­dus­try. Il­lus­tra­tor Haddon Sund­blom, com­mis­sioned by the D’Arcy agency, drew him in 1930 for Coca-Cola. Clutch­ing as many as six bot­tles of the prod­uct, and al­ways garbed iden­ti­cally, he be­came the cen­tral fig­ure in Coke’s Christ­mas cam­paigns un­til 1964.

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