TV Like It’s 1941

When I presented this week at the Mobile Web Europe conference, I re-enacted live the very first TV advertisement ever shown, which I thought you might find interesting.

But first, why would I be doing this, you might be wondering? Well, I was explaining that when a new media channel emerges, it tends to borrow the format of what came before it. Then, at some point, it develops into a style and format that is recognisably unique to the new medium.

The point I was making was that in the mobile channel, our first ads were simply borrowed from the PC environment and shrunk to a smaller screen. There’s nothing wrong with this and in many ways, this technique has proved hugely successful. But sooner or later, we needed to develop our own formats.

For AdMob, as I posted this week, that moment came with the iPhone format, where we can see what the industry has become and indeed, roughly where it’s going.

So, here is how to re-enact your very own first TV commercial, broadcast in 1941 during a baseball* game.

1. Show this picture to the audience for 10 seconds.

First Ever TV Commercial

First Ever TV Commercial

2. Say [slowly, over a 5 second interval and preferably with deep American accent] “America…..runs…..on……Bulova….time.”

3. Continue showing ad in silence for 5 seconds

4. Fade back to the Game.

As you can imagine, this didn’t tax my acting skills very much, but boy, you should have heard my American accent.

This is a great example of one medium (TV) borrowing from an earlier medium (radio) and singularly failing to fulfill TV’s potential. And yet, within a decade or so, TV ads had reached a whole new level and eventually culminated in some of the classic entertainment that we know today.

So it will be with mobile.

Have a great weekend, y’all.

*For UK readers, that’s a bit like the kids’ game “Rounders”. Baseball was also actually invented in the UK, but don’t tell your American friends as they won’t believe you.

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