In entertainment marketing, what’s past is prologue

That wise old marketing philosopher Yogi Berra said: “I don’t make predictions, especially about the future.” By looking back at some of the history of entertainment marketing and how people have responded to it over time, we can gain perspectives that help us in the present and future.

We’re heading into the Upfront season — the time each year when television networks host presentations in New York to introduce our new shows and fall schedules to the advertising community. Now is a good time to look back at our collection of vintage CBS print ads from the 1950s and ’60s to see what has — and has not — changed in since the Golden Age of Advertising.

Here are just a couple of the trends that stand out:


The decline of text
Before there was texting, there was text, and lots of it. Once the style of the day, print ads delivered long, rational theses in an attempt to woo clients and consumers. This two-page CBS newspaper ad (above), circa 1957, makes a bold statement in words supported by more words (in actual tiny footnotes) and a cartoon illustration. Today, print ads contain very few words; images do most or all of the heavy lifting when it comes to persuasion. Consumers are bombarded with so much information every day. The most simple, clear creative campaigns are the ones that break through. I love this one because the statement on the ad is as true today as it was 55 years ago. While the platforms for viewing, consuming and advertising have exploded, CBS still rules the roost.


Star power still sells
Celebrity endorsements have been part of advertising culture since the dawn of industry. Beloved entertainment personalities lend their names and faces to sell products and to promote their own shows and films. This vintage ad uses the huge cachet of Jack Benny “Famous CBS TV Star” to sell Certified Quality Service featuring CBS Hytron television and radio tubes. That was back in the days when CBS owned a television and radio manufacturing operation. While our business has changed dramatically since the days of Jack Benny, the importance of talent has not.

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