100 years of the BBC… sort of
The first audio advertisement was created by cereal brand Wheaties in 1926. This short tune was played on the radio during Christmas:
Wheaties sales rocketed and jingles became the industry standard. Other tropes introduced even in this first ad – the blend of information sharing and playfulness and the desire to appeal to both kids and parents – have endured too. Take Haribo, for instance:
The playfulness of the jingle has continued into the present day. Have you had your Weetabix?
TV adverts have had more of a stark evolution. On 22 September 1955, ITV was launched as a competitor to the BBC and the first TV ad was aired in the UK. The ad was for Gibbs S.R. toothpaste:
It’s dramatically different to the ads we see today that may not even mention the brand name, let alone the full product details:
ITV was initially only available in London and not everyone had a TV, so the Gibbs S.R. toothpaste ad could have reached a maximum of just 100,000 households. Now, more than 250 million hours of videos are watched each day on YouTube.
In 2007 YouTube launched InVideo ads. These started as banners and have evolved into ads more like those we see on TV:
Video content drives conversions and engagement, with 85% of consumers saying that it helps them connect with brands better. And viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text.
The rise of the influencer
In the 1960s, presenter commercials became popular. They began with familiar personalities using the product and basically explaining why people should buy it. For example, this Lux soap advert with Sandie Shaw:
In 1997, Spice Girls and Pepsi released a collaboration celebrating Pepsi’s Generation Next campaign:
Just Eat’s 2020 campaign featuring Snoop Dogg follows the same format:
Today, the rapidly increasing popularity of podcasts means that it’s not only the biggest artists who can play a powerful role in advertising. Podcast sponsorship allows marketers to use content creators covering nearly every interest as effective influencers for their brand.
Indeed, 56% of listeners say they would recommend a product or service to others which they have heard advertised on a podcast they regularly listen to.
The next 100 years?
With trends such as podcasts allowing adverts to reach their audience “on the go”, advertising is becoming more seamlessly integrated into consumers’ lives. One direction this could go is for the one-way conversation to become two-way, with the rise of interactivity.
Interactive adverts started to appear in the late 1980s. The first was an advert for Mazda cars which encouraged viewers to record the ad then play it back frame by frame to take part in a competition to win a car.
These are still popular with Honda running an interactive ad 20 years later:
As technologies such as AI, the metaverse and the Internet of Things develop, there is huge potential for interactive ads. Audi is already ahead of the game, airing an ad back in 2020 which allowed listeners to talk back and book a test drive using their smart speaker.
According to a survey by Adobe 58% of people find smart speaker ads to be less intrusive than other major formats such as TV, print, online, and social. And 53% reported a smart speaker ad drove them to make a purchase at a later time.
So happy birthday BBC. And here’s to another 100 years of parallel innovation in marketing sound and vision.