Advertising (1759) – by Samuel Johnson

samueljohnson[This is probably the oldest article ever written about advertising as we know it today. It has been quoted often, but rarely read as a whole. Samuel Johnson published it in issue 40 of his magazine The Idler, on January 20, 1759. I find the first footstep of it in http://www.gandalf.it/m/johnson.htm I think was necessary to be read today…]

Advertisements are now so numerous…

The practice of appending to the narratives of public transactions, more minute and domestic intelligence, and filling the News-papers with advertisements, has grown up by slow degrees to its present state.

Genius is shewn only by Invention. The man who first took advantage of the general curiosity that was excited by a siege or battle, to betray the Readers of News into the knowledge of the shop where the best Puffs and Powder were to be sold, was undoubtedly a man of great sagacity, and profound skill in the nature of Man. But when he had once shewn the way, it was easy to follow him; and every man now knows a ready method of informing the Publick of all that he desires to buy or sell, whether his wares be material or intellectual; whether he makes Cloaths, or teaches the Mathematics; whether he be a Tutor that wants a Pupil, or a Pupil that wants a Tutor.

Whatever is common is despised. Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic. Continue reading