Print advertising has been around since the 15th century but has developed into what we now think of as the modern print advertising over the last 100 years. 
During that time advertising has both reflected and created trends and changed views. We thought it would be interesting to take a closer a look at how print advertising has changed – we might even spot some future developments too. 
1910s - Still following the 19th century love of dense text and layout, there were already some hints of what was to come, with many advertisements introducing a single bold headline to capture a simple idea for everything from fizzy drinks to soups. 
1920s – images and illustrations start to become popular in the years between the wars. Designers are starting to realise that space in the layout of an advertisement can help to draw attention to what’s important, whether they were selling soap flakes or luxury goods. 
1930s - The stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed affected everything, including advertising. It wasn’t a decade for great innovations and there was definitely an air of austerity. 
1940s – Imagination really starts to flourish again as the post-war decade moves on, with bold images and adventurous uses of typography and colour to really catch the attention. Slogans start to play a more important role too – although ‘Successful marriages start in the kitchen’ probably wouldn’t sell many Pyrex dishes today. 
1950s – Creative design really starts to play an important role in the 50s. You can start to see early examples of layout approaches that we still use today with stronger images, and fewer words, most of which are at the bottom. If we’re still using these techniques nearly 70 years later, it must be because they work. 
1960s - The 1959 ‘Think Small’ advertisement from Volkswagen has a large image with a small Beetle car, a bold headline and very little text. At the time it was called a creative revolution, relying on a big idea. You can still see its influence in VW advertising today, even if they have been amongst the first to fall foul of the new gender stereotyping rules recently. 
1970s – Now creativity really is in full flow, with bright photographs and big headlines for everything from toothpaste to trainers. 
1980s – As funk music moves on to New Age, print advertising starts to take minimalism to the very limits with a single stunning image, a headline and not much else. 
1990s – Simple and strong is still the trend in the 90s, from Nike's 'Just Do It' to Coca Cola’s ‘Always Cool’. 
2000s – A new century doesn’t change things too much. Exactly the right image is still an essential ingredient of a successful print advertisement. There are a lot of tools available to create extraordinary images digitally and the emphasis remains on keeping content light, clear and to the point. 
2010s – today things might even get a little cleverer and quirkier – done well audiences will reward you for it. Careful layout, typography and content still produce the most effective modern advertising. 
What’s next? 
The style and content of printed advertisements have certainly changed with the times. Now they have an honourable place amongst the many different options available to advertisers. 
Print has often been at the forefront of creativity and style as well as being right up to date with the latest news and interests. For the future, caring for the environment and each other are going to add a more personal feel to the advertising mix. 
Our best advice is to look out for the latest developments in your business sector and the latest trends that are likely to interest your customers. Combine them in a carefully designed advertisement and be consistent across all your channels. 
Interested in building on 100 years of print advertising success? Give us a call
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