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Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Chapter Notes -Spearmint, Dentyne, Laxative

Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
MIT 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson

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October 6, 2011
Reading Summaries
“Newspapers, Advertising, and the Rise of Agency, 1850-1900”
Russell Johnston
This reading describes the rise of full-service advertising agencies in the late 1800’s and
how this affected newspapers. Revenue for newspapers became all about advertising where it
had once been about subscriptions. People had more disposable income to spend on products that
were not necessary to them, and advertising took full advantage of that. To satisfy demand for
new advertising, newspapers would upgrade from weeklies or tri-weeklies to dailies – not
because there was more news to report. At this time advertisers had to do a lot of the work
themselves, and rates were confusing and definitely not standardized. Agencies saw an
opportunity to help advertisers out by doing a lot of the work for them and making a profit off of
it. Advertising agents served the advertisers over the publishers of newspapers because it was the
advertiser who gave the agency the contract, not the publisher. Business men had different ways
of going about selling advertising; there were the ‘space jobbers’ who bought a ton of newspaper
‘white space’ and then sold it to advertisers at a discounted price (153); he made a profit because
he originally got a discounted price from the publisher for buying in bulk. Then there was Anson
McKim who started the first independent advertising agency; he enabled advertisers to place
their ads in areas outside of the big cities like toronto buy holding contracts with several papers
at once. However other independent agencies could only survive once the volume of advertising
increased which allowed the independent agencies to stay afloat. Full-service agencies came
about with J.J Gibbons, who brought copy and art departments to Canada from the United States.
These agencies did all the design and marketing work for the advertiser, plus they found the best
places for the client to place their ads by employing researchers, space-buyers, and checkers.
These full-service agencies enabled a consistency in theme to come about with a clients
products because everything involving the marketing of the product was done in one place. There
were some freelance advertisers but they soon died out because they had no commitment to their
clients like full-service agencies did. Soon the newspapers with the most circulation became hard
to compete with as they attracted the most advertisers; rural newspapers and weekly newspapers
began to fade in importance.
“Marketing Gum, Making Meanings: Wrigley in North America, 1910-1930”
Daniel Robinson
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, gum was marketed as being a healthy treat and useful
in keeping one’s composure. The brand names such as “Dentyne” promoted hygienic practices;
even though today gum is mainly bought and sold as a sweet, confectionary treat, back then it
was marketed as a cure to obesity or marketed as a laxative. This was because people did not
have direct access to doctors as we have today; they had to treat themselves. Gum was marketed
as the way to solve certain health problems. Robinson explains how gum (and other products
like pop and cereal) was also marketed as a way to calm the nerves or give you energy. As
psychology became more popular in the early 1900’s, so too did the increased prevalence of gum
ad’s marketed as being healthy for the mind. Robinson draws on “semiotic theory to illuminate
the cultural and marketing significance of the Spearman” in Wrigley’s gum advertisements (164).
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