Monday, March 24, 2008

Newspaper Advertisements, May 1956

I do not have too much commentary for what I am offering today--a series of newspaper advertisements that ran in local papers in May 1956. Some of these are only text; some include an angry and/or demented Donald Duck. Somebody needs to ask Jack Lindquist what they were thinking with these things! Given all the other newspaper advertisements I've seen, I was surprised to not only find these tiny, tiny text blocks, but to see the logo and all directional information missing. Were they cash-strapped as they were opening the Skyway, Tom Sawyer Island, Rainbow Caverns and Storybook Land, and maybe couldn't afford larger/more graphic advertising? Has anybody seen anything like these before?


Anonymous said...

The ads you have are all called "fillers". Back in the dark ages when newspapers were typeset by hand with a Linotype Machine, gaps occasionally showed up between articles that needed to be filled with something.

If you've seen "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" Dick Sargent (a newspaper editor) comes down and asks Don Knotts (the typesetter) for a "Two Inch Piece for the front page". Newspapers kept very short articles sorted by topic and length, to be inserted to fill the gap rather than spend ages re-typesetting the page to make the columns of text come out even.

Sometimes, in order to increase revenue, papers would sell these random spaces to advertisers at a very cheap rate ... but cheap for two reasons. First, you never knew when or how often your ads would run. Second, the ads couldn't be very large, nothing more than a snippet.

This was OK with advertisers because in ad theory, they were "secondary" ads. Primary ads like radio and television, told you explicitly about the product. Secondary ads, like billboards, benches, and matchbook covers, only REMINDED folks about the product. The assumption was you already knew it existed through the primary ads.

Looking at your collection, you have the fillers for the sports and financial pages, and filler ads are perfect for addressing the 50's Dad. He will probably know about Disneyland through primary ads or word of mouth from the wife/kids. He just needs to be reminded that they've asked to go a few times... and since 50's Dad makes all the money and is the only one in the family that drives the only car the family owns, he'd better think a trip to Disneyland is a good idea too. Hence the "do it for the ones you love" tone.

-Katella Gate

Jason Schultz said...

Katella Gate: Thanks for the exposition! That's valuable information. I took a look at surrounding ads and they are for things like tires, other automobile parts, vodka, binders, and a Manufacturers Register. The ones directed at women (like "Some Other Time, Dear!") are surrounded by weight loss and dresses.

I'm still surprised that such ads only ever (as far as I can tell) appeared in one month, and really during one week. Or maybe they went to using their logo in the ads and OCR can't pick it up...

Kevin Kidney said...

These are so cool!

Unknown said...

Great scans!

Thanks for sharing these with us.