What Is Advertising?

A LONG time ago there was no advertising. Every man with something to sell had to tell people about it personally and individually. This was not a great handicap in those days, for no one had very much to sell.

But as soon as large-scale manufacturing was begun, it was necessary to find a way to tell many people about products, and to tell them quickly and all at one time. To fill this need, advertising naturally developed as a universal business process. Without it we could not operate large factories making goods for millions of consumers.

Advertising is sometimes spoken of as a special kind of business, as a separate industry supported by other lines of business. It is no such thing at all. Advertising is simply a part of the process of selling the products of every industry. It does the important job of telling people about merchandise and where to buy it, and it stimulates their desire to buy.

It is not enough to make goods and to transport them to places where consumers can buy them. The public must be told about the goods — how desirable they are, how people can make themselves more comfortable, more healthy, or more happy through buying them. In other words, the merchandise must be sold, not merely placed on sale. Advertising does a large part of this selling, and there is no other method that can take its place.

Since the days when there was no advertising, the quantity of goods produced has been multiplied by many, many times, Consequently each consumer’s share is vastly increased. The wealth created in making the goods is distributed to consumers through payments for wages, materials, and dividends, and thus they are able to buy the greater volume of goods produced.

But merely being able to buy does not make people buy. Salesmen and advertising must be kept on the job all the time, to keep merchandise moving from factory to consumer, or the wheels will soon stop turning. The work of selling is just as important as the work of making and the work of transporting. And advertising is the only way by which the large volume of goods now being produced can be sold.

In performing its selling work, advertising shows us the way to better living, by creating desires for better things. Through conveniences introduced by advertising, the burdens of housekeeping have been made easier and the family diet has been improved. Babies are healthier and homes are more sanitary because of the educational influence of advertising. Newspapers and magazines are sold for a few cents a copy and radio entertainment is free, because advertisers pay most of the costs of these three great mediums for advertising.

While doing all this useful and valuable work, advertising costs the consumer nothing because it is the most economical form of selling and lowers the cost of distribution. Advertising is the voice of industry, telling us all how to live happier lives and how to make our money go farther.