According to numerous sources, the first advertisement in English appeared in 1477 and was written by noted diplomat, translator, author, printer and publisher, William Caxton.
‘If it pies ony man spirituel or temporel to bye ony pyes of two and three comemoracids of salisburi vse enpryntid after the forme of this preset lcttre whiche ben wel and truly correct, late hym come to wcstmonester in to the almonesrye at the reed pale, and he shall have them good chep.’
What can we learn from this ad?
- The term “in English” is open to broad interpretation
- Proofreaders were in short supply
- Ads need a clear call to action
As any child of five can see, this advertisement offers savvy consumers the chance to pick up some of those hot new prayer books over at the Red Pale tavern near the home for destitute women in Westminster. And if you act now, you can get them at a bargain price.
But not all ads are copy-driven. Some use the art and science of design and typography to attract and sway the consumer.
And some do not.
There are a few things I would like to know about this ad:
- What was the budget for this project?
- Did the creative brief provide more information?
- Were those spelling errors or simply typos that snuck in after the art director sent it to production?
- Was this part of a larger campaign or was it some sort of one-off?
- What was the ROI?
- Did the client’s spouse have a role to play in this ad?
Sadly, history is mute on these topics.