How a Vogue ad from the 1950’s can help tackle Adblocking

How a Vogue ad from the 1950’s can help tackle Adblocking

Paul Wilson 06/08/2018 5
I recently discovered this beautiful designed ad from a 1950’s edition of Vogue. The picture is a little unclear so it is worth quoting the copy in full.

Vogue’s Eye View of Putting on Weight


While we should deplore the very thought of an extra pound on your figure (at this moment when the Moulded Line means a trimmed down silhouette) we are delighted to announce that we ourselves have put on a noticeable amount of weigth in this, the biggest-ever issue of Vogue. 

For ten years, until 1950, we were limited by paper-rationing – and advertising pages were staggered throughout the year to make issues of roughly corresponding size. Now, paper is no longer limited, and the fashion market has returned to its pre war pattern, with perhaps an exaggerated emphasis on the Spring and Autumn seasons. 

These are the times when most people want to buy their clothes, and, therefore, when advertisers want particularly to show what they have to sell.  You can now expect a big increase in advertisements in Vogue at these two peak periods – and since our advertising pages are a complete complement to our editorial pages, we feel you will relish the extra matter. 

But we of Vogue want to come back to fundamentals, and to emphasize an important point; although spring and autumn are peak moments for merchandise, fashion is a constant – an interest that is not seasonal – and we take care of fashion for you by keeping the same basic number of editorial pages in every issue of Vogue, no matter how the number of advertising pages may fluctuate. 

However, there is always an exception to ever rule, as in this issue, when the number of editorial pages increased. (the editorial pages may expand from time to time, but you have our assurance that they will not diminish) 

So if you’ll forgive our sounding momentarily like wide-screen hucksters or ringmasters, here we offer you our super-colossal March issue, more epically, colourfully and completely presented than ever before…

Although written nearly 70 years ago it has much to teach us about how to address current advertising issues; particularly Adblocking. I think 5 main themes emerge.

1. Respect your Audience

This ad is written with the upmost respect and understanding of the type of people who read Vogue. People haven’t been reduced to mere readers, viewers or visitors. This is a million miles away from talking about ‘monetising eyeballs’. 

Focusing on understanding people, what they are interested in and how you can provide it will lead to a fundamentally different outcome to just focusing on short term ways to make more money from views.

2. Have a Clear View on the Role and Value of Advertising

Vogue is clear on the role and contribution of advertising not only to its magazine but also to the broader fashion industry and calendar.  There is no embarrassment here and this is a view that is clearly stated. 

Without a clear view of the role and contribution of advertising to your business you are not going to be able to make consistent and considered decisions.

3. Communicate the Importance and Role of Advertising

As well as having a clear view of the role and importance of advertising Vogue have also communicated this to their readers so they too understand the role and value of advertising – and also why the number of adverts might vary from issue to issue. 

Although people’s current expectation is that the content they read, watch and listen to is free the advertising industry has done a poor job of communicating the contribution of advertising to keeping this content free.

4. Place Importance on this Message

It might not be clear from the image but this ad was signed by the designer – and man called Raymond Hawkey. He was one of the pioneers of British graphic design and it is a sign of how important Vogue see this message that they commission someone of his standing to create it.

Advertisers do a great job promoting the benefits of their clients.  But we seem to be doing ourselves a disservice in how we talk about our own business and contribution.

5. Integrate Advertising and Editorial Content to Reinforce your Brand

Advertising is not seen as a necessary evil and Vogue believe their readers will ‘relish the additional matter’ as it will be complementary to Vogue’s editorial content. There is a clear link between advertising and editorial content and there is also a clear value in this content.

As a media owner if you just view the value of advertising and communication as a financial transaction you will be missing additional value.  Aligning editorial and advertising content can be a mutually beneficial relationship.

All this might sound like nostalgia for the age of Mad Men. But it is interesting to see Media Brands that are thriving in today’s Digital world. This note highlighted the success of the Canadian new brand La Presse who moved a 100+ year old newspaper to a 100% digital format. 

They prioritised producing a good and valuable advertising experience resulting in them limiting ad inventory and avoiding irritating formats altogether. And they support this transition with a massive ad campaign. It is not surprise that this relaunch  has been a success

They spent 3 years on testing and market research to understand their audience and their reading behaviours online. They prioritised producing a good and valuable advertising experience resulting in them limiting ad inventory and avoiding irritating formats altogether. And they support this transition with a massive ad campaign. It is not surprise that this relaunch has been a success

So, although we might think the world is changing rapidly, there are still things we can learn from the mad men era beyond the 3 martini lunch.

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  • Alex Tarran

    Respect your audience and they won't block your ad.

  • Lucas Healey

    Awesome read !

  • Susan Barnes

    Brillant article

  • Martin Griffin

    This was such an interesting take on advertising, very cool!

  • Sam Norton

    I miss the old ads

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Paul Wilson

Digital Expert

Paul is Global Head of Strategy at Vizeum. He is a Global Strategist with experience that spans a variety of sectors (CPG, Tech, Pharma and Finance) and disciplines (Media, Advertising, CRM and Sales Promotion). He is responsible for European Strategy across all Starcom Global Network Clients including Samsung, P&G, Coke, Airbnb, Novartis, Etihad, Mars. Paul holds a Bachelor in Biological Sciences, Zoology from the University of Oxford.


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