Archive for March, 2008


Advertising from radio to television

March 8, 2008


As mentioned in a previous post, radio had developed a system where programs were sponsored by advertisers. Consumers could express their gratitude by buying the product of the sponsor; thus keep the program on air.
This system proved so successful that the majority of the programs were created by the advertisers/advertising agencies. While advertisers controlled content, broadcasters provided the equipment and the knowledge for broadcasting.

When it came to television, nobody had a clue how it should be work. It was a new medium with no proven track record, no research, and no guidelines. Advertisers, who were very satisfied with their place in radio, baulked at venturing into television.
The only other people left who had the knowledge and money to enter this new medium were the radio broadcasters themselves (broadcasters such as NBC and ABC).

It was now up to the broadcasters to convince advertisers to join them, and that’s what they tried to do for the majority of 1939 – 1941. Many advertisers were curious, but still feared the uncertainty.

Then America entered the war… their society slowed to halt as all efforts were focused on helping the war.

Post-World War 2 saw a shift in ideology. Advertisers were asked to do their part help increase consumption. Without a doubt, this helped convince advertisers that they should try television as a new means of advertising.
Moreover, NBC announced in 1944 that their television network would function exactly as their radio network (sponsorship of programs).
The message was clear; Television can offer advertisers all the advantages they had heard about, and at the same time it is as reliable as radio.

It worked! More advertisers moved into television, and the medium prospered.

It is no wonder then that the techniques of radio advertising such as the jingle can be found in television.
Early television was run by radio men, working within the same system.

Further Reading:
Schwoch, J. (1990) ‘Selling the sight/site of sound: Broadcast advertising and the transition from radio to television’ in Cinema Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Autumn, 1990), Pg. 55-66.
Taylor, T. D. (2003) ‘Music and advertising in early radio’ in ECHO, Vol. 5, Issue 2 (Fall 2003).