ITW Advertising

Early days of Advertising

Now the moment you've all been waiting for ...
(Jack Jackson on 22 September 1955, at 20:12:07)

Before ITV

Commercials were not an entirely new experience in British Broadcasting, as is sometimes argued. The early BBC carried programmes sponsored by such organisations as the Daily Mail and Harrods, although these disappeared at the same time as it moved from Company to Corporation. Radio advertising was familiar from stations based in France and Luxembourg. It had been recommended by two commissions in the 1930s that sponsored programmes should be part of the mix on a BBC Television service, but WWII intervened, and they were not included when the service restarted in 1946.

The First Night Commercials

It's tingling fresh.

I's fresh as ice.

It's Gibbs SR Toothpaste, the tingling fresh toothpaste that does your gums good too.

The tingle you get when you brush with SR is much more than a nice taste - it's a tingle of health. It tells you something very important, that you're doing your gums good and toughening them to resist infection.

And as this chart shows, gum infection is the cause of more tooth losses than decay itself.

The tingle in SR comes from sodium ricinoleate - a substance which both dental research and years of use in dental practice have shown to be good for the gums.

So to keep your teeth white as snow, your gums really healthy, and your breath really fresh, see your dentist regularly and brush with SR - the tingling fresh toothpaste for teeth and gums.

Gibbs SR.

Voice-over spoke by Alex Macintosh over a block of SR in ice surrounded by 400 gallons of water syphoned from the gents toilet in the Pathe Studios in Wardour Street, and Meg Smith brushing her teeth.

Other advertisers on day one: Guinness, Batchelor's peas, Brillo, Cadburys, Crosse and Blackwell, Dunlop Rubber, Esso, Ford, Remmington Rand, Shredded Wheat, Surf, Watney's, National Benzole, Kraft cheese, Woman, Coty Brown and Polson, Express Dairy, Crompton Lamps, Summer County margarine, Ecko radio/TV sets, Oxo.

The price of a peak time ad on Associated Rediffusion was £975 for one minute, with half a minute costing £650. ATV were a bit cheaper at £950 and £633 respectively. The advertisers on the first day had to pay a premium of £500, which they thought was to go to charity, which in the end it did.

Long gone styles

The Time Spot

Time to light a Red and White. Just the job for the man who inhales. Now at 8 it's Take Your Pick

At the start of ITV it was possible to book the station clock, and place a seven second advert either side of it. Until July 1959 these didn't count towards the maximum per-hour advertising time, thus giving a possible extra 30 seconds of advertising time for the company. When this became part of the normal advertising time the intrusion was thought to be annoying with no benefits to the companies, and these spots were discontinued on 1 January 1961.


`Shopper's Guides' and `Advertising Documentaries / Magazines' were debated in the passing of the 1954 Television Act. According to the 1958 `Advertising Rules and Practices':

Definition - An Advertising Magazine consists of a linked series of advertisements for different products and services. The advertisements may originate from one advertiser or from a number of different advertisers.

Content - The content of the programme as a whole must clearly and unmistakably reveal and serve its advertising purpose.

There were several types of these programmes:

The Posh Shop

Elizabeth Allen or Katie Boyle would swan about some expensive shop, such as Harrods or Marshall and Snelgrove being patronising. Unbelievably the BBC used to make this kind of programme for themselves, although they needed to disguise the shops and the prices!

The Corner Shop

Various styles, set in a more recognisable shop environment. Examples were Shop on the Corner, Watson's Store (Jack Howarth) and In Store (Kenneth Horne, Richard Murdoch and Tommy Trinder).

Young Fun

Teenagers cooing over the latest fashions. Main programmes were Flair and Girl With a Date.

Jim's Inn

Over 300 episodes made of this programme set in a pub staring Jimmy Hanley.

Industry Bodies

Sometimes an industry, or supplier and shop would join together to make a presentation. Marks and Spencers made use of this style, including one telling their own story, `Fashion in the Making'.

The Pilkington Committee put the knife into this style of advertising, and it was finally outlawed by the 1964 Television Act, although the Postmaster-General had already directed that they were to be discontinued from 31 March 1963.

The Small Ad

At one time, particularly off peak much or all of the ad break would be given over to small ads, which consisted of someone booming the name of a town, say WOLVERHAMPTON, which would be followed by a number of 7 second ads spoken over a caption.

Not very exciting, and they seemed to become extinct in the 1970s.

How to get 22 minutes of Advertising in an Hour

Initially the maximum amount of spot commercials was limited to eight minutes in any one hour, with an average of six over the whole broadcasting day. At the weekends eight-and-a-half minutes were allowed.

However in addition an hour might contain:

Making the grand total of 24 minutes.

1960 Reduction of advertising time

In 1960 the maximum time for spot commercials in any hour was reduced to seven-and-a-half minutes in September, and seven minutes on Christmas Eve. The number of internal breaks were reduced - whereas previously an hour long programme had three, now only two were permitted. The companies didn't lose out as they raised the price of their ads to compensate.

This pattern remained much the same today on terrestrial television. Although the pattern on cable and satellite has always been much more like the pre-1960 style.

Recent changes for Channels 3,4 and 5 have raised the peak advertising minutes and restored the possibility of 3 internal breaks in an hour programme. All really turning the clock back to 1960.

Advertising ITW