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Persistent URL for this entry http: Given the city's bustling, vibrant, and brash reputation, it seems obvious that the national advertising industry would reside in Sydney.
However, the relationship between the city and the advertising industry stretches back to the earliest years of European settlement. Advertising helped propel commercial activity in Sydney, profiting handsomely from it in the process.
While the city has left its mark on Australian advertising, the advertising industry has been no less active in shaping Sydney.
In addition to illuminating the city's skyline and streetscape, advertising has also influenced the lives of all Sydneysiders — from suburban consumers to esteemed artists. Moreover, advertising has raised Sydney's international profile — as the must-see destination for tourists or as the backdrop for the latest blockbuster film.
Commercial foundations Commercial [media] activity has been integral to Sydney's growth. During the penal colony's fledgling years, local industry was largely agricultural, with the timber and brick industries emerging to service the settlement's infrastructure.
Importers were therefore vital in transporting and distributing goods and wares to local retailers, manufacturers and consumers. While the settlement's initial size meant that word of mouth was the most common form of advertising, ongoing expansion demanded a more efficient means of publicising goods or services.
Among the items brought out to the new settlement by the First Fleet was a screw-press for reproducing government orders.
Seven years would elapse before a printer was found to operate it and produce Sydney's first outdoor advertisements. With performances changing regularly, they also pioneered the use of street frontage to advertise current and upcoming shows.
The growth of Sydney's retail sector stimulated further outdoor advertising. To delineate themselves from their competitors, retailers adorned their shop frontages with signs advertising their names, wares and prices. A growing number employed sign-writers in order to convey a more professional image.
Over time, brand names would also assume a more prominent role in these shopfront displays. The colony's first newspaper offered another solution. Instantly lucrative, such columns established an interdependent relationship between local advertisers and the press.
In subsequent issues, advertising material in the Sydney Gazette comprised almost two-thirds of each edition. The Sydney Gazette's success led to the creation of further newspapers. While subscriptions to the early papers were their primary source of income, advertising revenue remained a welcome and expanding additional source.
In the s, the press was heavily dependent upon the activities of agents that made their living by selling news and reports to newspapers. Earning commissions from newspaper column inches sold to advertisers, canvassers sold space with little care for a publication's circulation.
Most advertisers created their own newspaper advertisements, resulting in unimaginative and crude advertisements. Outdoor advertising business quickly grew — as did competing firms.
In addition to printing posters, it also erected its own hoardings in prominent places and placed its clients' posters on them. These giant hoardings featured a cacophony of posters of varying sizes, colours, and appeals.
Nostalgic reprints of posters from the s can still be seen on the walls of Museum Station. Their in-house advertising departments produced appealing and effective advertisements.
Although smaller firms were also recognising advertising's importance, few could afford their own advertising departments. Stepping into this breach were a handful of men offering to service these companies' advertising needs.
The first admen Sydney's first generation of advertising professionals emerged in the first years of the twentieth century. Thomas A Miller's eponymous agency emerged around The pioneering agency offered a complete service — buying space, writing copy, and, where possible, producing illustrations.
Other full service agencies, such as the Weston Company, quickly followed. Weston then worked in the Bulletin 's advertising department before establishing another agency with the photographer Walter Burke in It published the Reason Whyone of the first journals 'devoted exclusively to advertising problems'.
His perseverance, integrity and good humour persuaded reluctant firms to use his services. When he retired from the agency in at the age of 92, Richards still held some of the accounts he had secured during his earliest days. An advertising industry was forming around Sydney's growing number of advertising agencies.
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