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Advertising, History of

Liz McFall


Advertising is a tenacious form. Originating in the commercial impulse to promote sales, versions of what might loosely be termed →  “advertising” can no doubt be traced to wherever and whenever surplus product has needed to be disposed of. The proverb “good wine needs no bush,” for instance, is at least 2,000 years old. It refers to the vintner's practice, common until well into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, of hanging shrubs or ivy around the door to indicate wine or beer available for sale within. The sense of the practice contained within the proverb is quite familiar – good products need no extra promotion. There are probably numerous other instances of advertising-like activity in early history, but usage of the word in its contemporary sense appears to date from the latter part of the sixteenth century. The term “advertise” itself is from the French meaning to inform, warn, or announce. It is not the only term to have been associated with the products and practices of commercial promotion. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, commercial promotion was often described as “puffing,” with the related terms “puff” and “puffery” in widespread use. Other terms, including “blast”, “bubble,” and “push,” were also used to describe commercial efforts to boost sales, although, as in the case of the “South Sea Bubble,” these terms were often associated with speculative, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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