By: Ilya Vedrashko
WPP's Martin Sorrell in today reminisces what it was like to be in advertising when this cool new medium -- television -- had just arrived, and draws parallels to today's media evolution:
"Setting up a television capability was a significant extra cost with little possibility of immediate equivalent return. Personal confidence was low: senior agency people found themselves ill-equipped to recommend the television medium or even to debate it with clients. And, of course, in the early years, television in the UK enjoyed nothing like national coverage, which made it of doubtful (and totally unproven) value to national advertisers. To all of that, we can add an all-too-human resistance to novelty and change."
I just finished re-reading two great books that explore how media that once were new gradually found their niches in our society. It's a more academic reading and not something you usually find on advertisers' bookshelves, but if you liked Sorrell's piece, you'll find these books eye-opening.
Lisa Gitelman's New Media: 1740-1915:
"Examining a variety of media in their historic contexts, it explores those moments of transition when new media were not yet fully defined and their significance was still in flux. Examples range from familiar devices such as the telephone and phonograph to unfamiliar curiosities such as the physiognotrace and the zograscope."
Carolyn Marvin's When Old Technologies Were New:
"This book uses two innovations, the telephone and the electric light, to show how technology reshaped social relations. Quotations and anecdotes from the popular press illustrate how professionals struggled to control the new media and preserve the social order by excluding "outsiders," particularly the lower classes and women."