British advertising

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The definition of advertising as given by is “to announce or praise (a product, service, etc.) in some public medium of communication in order to induce people to buy or use it: to advertise a new brand of toothpaste,” in this case I shall be attempting to answer the question posed from a Marxist point of view, referring majoritivly to the BBC, which had its first inception of a televised advert in 1955 to critical acclaim.

There are two main analytical approaches teleological versus contextual, the former revolves around the concept of to understanding the earlier history of something in terms of what it has since become. In other words, it is to read the end into the beginning, to read the past in terms of the present. Everything that happened in the past is seen in terms of how it led to what we have in the present – or, how it is different from what we have in the present.

Though this approach tends to assume that the developments that occurred were inevitable or ‘natural’, rather than the result of very particular factors. Where as the latter, attempts to look at much broader contexts. If one takes into account the social, economic as well as historical factors this enables an impartial view of how these events would have occurred For example the first televised British commercial which leads nicely onto my next point.

Televised advertising began in the Britain on the 22nd of September 1955, this first commercial being for Gibbs SR Toothpaste. Although a concept widely accepted and appreciated in today’s age, the BBC’s choice to show adverts during a “commercial break,” was met with severe criticism and was deemed as to “American,” thus would be unable to interest a British audience. These critiques where mainly from the BBC’s largest and only broadcast rival ITV. Who eventually had to succumb to the realisation that advertisements where the way forward

The first adverts started in 1955 which was by Gibbs SR toothpaste it featured a tube of toothpaste. The advert had a jerky style and was uncertain, this was because the generic conventions of UK advertisements had yet to be established, and thus this was breaking new ground. These early advert where also black and white and were by today’s standard much longer in comparison. Although this has been majoritivly put down to British TV attempting to make adverts more distinguishable from their American counterparts. Its important to note here that featured within these adverts were the middle class white actors with middle class values and accents. (This plays into the whole concept of Marxism) “These early adverts if u appreciate from a Marxist p.o.v then”

The presenter commercial was a standard format arrived at very quickly. This implies that early conventions of the adverts we view today were beginning to be standardised. During the early days of television advertising presenters where under the impression that one had to be almost obnoxiously loud to advertise a product, much like the car insurance sales of today. An individual would stand and vouch for the products authenticity and originality. Usually a character that the audience would already be familiar with, thus the concept of brand identity on television was start.

Over the last several decades the way products are advertised on television has changed, Initially during the 1950,s, advertisements mainly consisted of soap powder manufactures and food advertising, this could possibly be due the fact that, before television there was obviously the radio, and these radio broadcast where sponsored by various soap powder companies, as were various soap operas. Therefore as this would have made up a large percentage of what people saw on television, and heard on radios. It only stands to reason, that Soap powder companies would hold such a dominate position over these early years of television advertising.

From the 1970’s onwards, the advertisers approached changed as to explain why consumers should use the given product. Persuading viewers to share with the lifestyles and success of characters on screen. Then the 1980’s brought about new outlets for media consumption in the form of Channel 4 and breakfast television. Both of which had profound influences on consumers advert consumption. Another great change happened when advocates for the dissolution of the BBC’s licensing fee, appealed to have it disbanded and instead replace it with advertising. Whose strongest advocate was the Adam Smith institute which said “there can be little future for a channel which discriminates against he viewer and instead chooses to listen to the bureaucrat,”

Though in the current day and age, advertising has reached a new level of intensity, although not quite on America’s level of five commercial breaks. Nearly all programmes feature at least one commercial break. Much to the annoyance of music video and film watchers all over. Conclusion I have concluded that due to the current new forms of media, advertising will continue to make profound changes and this will influence consumerism in the years to come.


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