Serif in Education

The history of modern advertising

 The Computing curriculum asks that students practice Digital Literacy. Being digitally literate includes the ability to create content in a variety of forms, making use of text, images and sound, as well as new digital tools and technologies.


This aspect of the curriculum is well supported by the Serif Design Suite. DrawPlus, PhotoPlus, WebPlus, MoviePlus and PagePlus all assist pupils in the creation of various forms of digital content such as films, multimedia websites, digital images, animations, and more.


In the world of work, all of these different types of content can be used to advertise products, goods, services, causes or information. Nowadays, adverts are no longer just the static full page magazine creations that they used to be, and are instead becoming more and more sophisticated – think e-shots, viral videos and Facebook ads.


The word ‘advert’ came from the Latin ‘ad vertere’ which means “to turn towards”.  In 2015, the world spent an estimated £450 billion on advertising. Internationally, the largest (“big four”) advertising conglomerates are Interpublic, Omnicom, Publicis, and WPP. So, advertising is big business now, but where did it come from? We found a great timeline (courtesy of Above All Advertising) detailing the emergence of advertising over the years – even the Romans used it.


2000 BC: Egyptians used papyrus and steel rods to sell goods.


79 BC: An Ancient Roman painted advert for a gladiatorial game says: “They’ll fight at Pompei from the sixth day before the ides of April”.


1100 AD: Copper plate advert with ‘Jinan Liu’s Fine Needle Shop’ printed in China.


1472: First print ad created in England.


1835: First ever posters printed for circuses by Jared Bell.


1886: Thomas Barratt turns famous painting into advert for Pears Soap, and is dubbed father of modern advertising.


1895: Coca Cola launches, using images of smart, attractive women to advertise their brand initially.


1900: The standard American billboard is created, introducing an outdoor advertising boom.


1915: WW1 sees the rise of advertisements used in the form of visual propaganda.


1920: John B Watson – a behavioural psychologist – brings psychological principles to the forefront of advertising.


1941: First TV advertisement aired (for a Bulova watch) costing £3-7 to air.


1950: Branding becomes honed and perfected by the likes of US brands Tide, Kraft and Lipton.


1959: Volkswagen’s 1959 ‘Think Small’ is most successful advert in history.


1960: Colour TV advertising becomes ubiquitous.


1980: First online advertising banners used by Prodigy (owned by IBM and Sears).


1998: The average consumer saw 3,000 marketing messages daily.


2006: Online advertising surpasses press media advertising for the first time.


2016: Advertising is worth £450 billion a year.



Studying the influence of mass media on our lives allows students to view advertising in a new light. By looking at advertising critically, students begin to understand how the media may oppress certain groups, how it convinces people to purchase certain products, and how it influences culture. If they understand what adverts are trying to do, and what message they are trying to get across, they will find it easier to come up with creative ways to advertise digitally, whether that is creating an online banner, a viral video, or a print ad.


Serif’s resources are available online to support the creation of digital resources. Here are some useful links:

· Creating Video:

· Creating a Multimedia Website:

· Creating Animations:

· Creating Graphics for the Web:

· Digital Imaging: