Fun Facts In Commercial History

On an average day, you are exposed to over 3,000 marketing messages.

The 1st television advertisement was broadcast in the United States on July 1, 1941. The watchmaker Bulova paid $9 for a placement on New York station WNBT before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers & Philadelphia Phillies. The 20-second spot displayed a picture of a clock superimposed on a map of the United States, accompanied by the voice-over "America runs on Bulova time."

In 1952, Mr. Potato Head became the first toy advertised on national television.

The first television Network sponsor of a sporting event was the Gillette Razor Company with the telecast of the Joe Louis vs. Bill Conn heavyweight Boxing match on June 19, 1946. Their commercial spotlighted a line drawing of a parrot called Sharpie and their commercial slogans "Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp!" and "How'r 'ya fixed for blades?"

Kraft Foods was the first company to sponsor an hour long drama as they lent commercial support for their dramatic anthology KRAFT TELEVISION THEATRE/NBC/1947-58. Their first drama was "Double Door" and starred John Baragrey.

The first animated commercial to use identifiable characters was an Ajax cleanser commercial which debuted in 1948 and featured the antics of three energetic pixies (The Ajax Pixies) who cavorted about the kitchen and bathroom cleaning dirty surfaces.

The first television commercial filmed in color on the CBS network starred actress Adelaide Hawley portraying "Betty Crocker", America's fictional housewife. The 1951 broadcast featured a mystery fruitcake.

The first color commercial televised in a local show was commissioned in March by Castro Decorators, New York, in a contract with WNBT. It was first telecast on Aug. 6. 1953.

In response to pressure from a number of concerned citizen groups, the NAB in 1958 outlawed the "Men in White" commercials which depicted actors who portrayed doctors recommending medicines to the American public. To get around this ruling, one advertisement later featured a commercial that began the now famous line, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."

On January 2, 1971, a federally imposed ban on television cigarette advertisements went into effect.

In 1971, The Federal Trade Commission ruled that such euphemisms as "Leading Brand", "Brand X" and "The Leading Foreign Import" were only confusing to the public and must be discontinued. This was the birth of television commercials that directly attacked another product by their "brand name" such as the phrase "More people prefer Pepsi to Coke."

In a unique collaboration of commercial marketing, the Alka-Selzer Company and H&R Block Company joined forces in the spring of 1987 to calm the queasy feeling that Americans get at tax preparation time. The commercial pitch was, "Take Alka-Seltzer and call H&R Block." This was the first time two major companies jointly pushed their products. By sharing costs, the joint venture would allow the companies to reach a larger group of consumers in both supermarket and tax offices.

In May of 1988, rock star Michael Jackson starred in five Pepsi Cola commercials aired in the Soviet Union to an audience of 150,000,000 people. The commercials were seen during a week-long series called "Posner In America" hosted by Vladimir Posner, Russian journalist/broadcaster. This was the first time in history that an American commercial was shown behind the Iron Curtain

In 1988, Cadaco had a great idea for a board game, dubbed 'Adverteasing'. The problem was that most national advertising hadn't really hit the fever pitch that it has today. As such, a majority of the questions were about car rental companies, O-Cedar, and General Electric. And this is why the game was a total snooze to play.

The most expensive television commercial produced to date was the twenty-million dollar, Guinness, "Tipping Point" ad. It featured hundreds of villagers who come together to create the ultimate domino effect (featuring 6,000 iconic black and white dominoes) alongside thousands of unexpected toppling objects, including suitcases, oil drums, fridges and cars.

* Some of the above items are excerpted in part or in whole from