This study of the lives and careers of Claude C. Hopkins and Earnest Elmo Calkins from their boyhood experiences with periodical advertising in the 1870s though their professional contributions to the field at the turn of the century provides a ground-level view of modern advertising’s emergence. Among other things, it shows that certain marketing concepts emerged earlier than is often assumed and that these concepts were often developed independent of major advertising agencies and far from the urban centers of advertising production. Calkins and Hopkins had very different philosophies of marketing, and between them they defined a spectrum of advertising message strategy that still characterizes the field. The happenstance that Hopkins and Calkins both wrote ads for the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, provides a symbolic center for this analysis that brings these developments into focus.
In the 1890s, Claude C. Hopkins and Earnest Elmo Calkins, two giants among early ad creators, each produced advertisements for the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This coincidence is one of many revealing convergences and divergences in the lives of the two men, and if we follow their careers through the turn of the century, we will get a picture that in important respects clarifies and corrects our understanding of advertising history.
Very often, the rise of modern advertising is described in terms of ad agencies and their transformation from space brokers to full-service firms, that is, from businesses that simply bought and sold space in the periodical press to organizations that developed and executed complex marketing campaigns. Innovative agencies such as N.W. Ayer and Son of Philadelphia, Lord and Thomas of Chicago, and J. Walter Thompson of New York take key roles in this scenario. This transformation was indeed crucial, as agencies came to provide the institutional infrastructure for advertising and played a central role in its growth. But because agencies did not consolidate their position in the industry until the 1900s, focusing on them can obscure the extent to which the foundations of modern advertising were already in place by that time. An advanced understanding of advertising form and content emerged mostly independent of the major agencies, and key developments were widely dispersed throughout the country, occurring in places like Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Racine, Wisconsin, as well as New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Changes in advertising practice sometimes ascribed to the 1920s, the 1950s, or even the 1980s were clearly evident in the early work of men like Hopkins and Calkins. By 1900 advertising was already beginning to harmonize with the wider culture in a manner that made it a pervasive form of social communication throughout the twentieth century.
Hopkins and Calkins are crucial to this story for a number of reasons. They pioneered advertising strategies that had a decisive impact on the development of the field, which by extension made them enormously influential in the process by which marketing concepts and advertising discourse subsequently shaped American culture. Hopkins was widely known as a copywriter par excellence, but in terms of advertising history, his work is perhaps more properly valued for its ability to combine a subtle understanding of consumer psychology, market research, and copy testing into integrated marketing campaigns that effectively married brand identity and distinctive selling propositions. Many years later, in the 1980s, one of the industry’s major creative forces recalled that reading a Hopkins book describing these campaigns had “changed the course of my life.” Calkins developed similarly sophisticated plans for clients, but his great insight emerged from his appreciation of indirect, purely visual modes of advertising. One writer has described him as “arguably the single most important figure in early twentieth century graphic design.” Entering the field in an era when the value, purpose, and techniques of advertising were all unsettled issues, and when the role and status of the advertising creator were equally uncertain, Hopkins and Calkins helped establish an enduring framework for advertising communications.
Hopkins and Calkins are also important in a more generic sense, as representative figures in a larger landscape. Their role in defining the basics of modern advertising practice was not predestined or predictable, and of course they were not the only contributors to these developments. Rather, they offer important examples of a process in which people scattered across the country found different points of entry into the advertising field at the end of the nineteenth century and began to improvise the pivotal techniques of mass marketing in an atmosphere where the future of marketing was characterized more by uncertainty than inevitability. They lent their voices to a blizzard of exchanges in the burgeoning trade press, where advertising’s professional identity and principles began to emerge from an inchoate mass of options and opinions. As with many of their colleagues, Hopkins and Calkins for many years participated without affiliation with an advertising agency. In fact, the creation of the modern ad agency was more a result of the birth of modern advertising than a cause of it, and the ferment that characterized the ad industry at this time was occurring throughout the country, not limited to its major commercial centers. The happenstance that Hopkins and Calkins both wrote ads for the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company in Grand Rapids symbolizes these points. The ads they created for Bissell perhaps were not milestones in their own right (though Hopkins’s work in particular was highly innovative). They are significant for showing that modern advertising did not emerge initially or even primarily at the largest corporations in the largest cities under the aegis of the largest agencies, but were part of a much wider and less institutionalized cultural and economic impulse. Ultimately, it was an aggregation of individual actions by people such as Hopkins and Calkins that created modern advertising and twentieth-century consumer culture. Their stories offer a ground-level view of these developments.
The perspectives of Hopkins and Calkins provide an ideal lens for this study not because the two men were so similar, but because they were so different. Between them, they demarcated the spectrum of advertising practice and self-image. In many ways, by 1900 they already had defined the two variants of “professionalism” that historian Roland Marchand described as a fundamental dichotomy among advertising practitioners in later decades. Hopkins aspired to “the narrow professionalism of the ‘real pro’ who loyally supplied his client with practical expertise,” while Calkins had an expansive perspective that “emphasized educational standards, public service, and cultural uplift.” Similarly, the methods of Hopkins and Calkins encompassed the yin and yang of advertising message strategy, commonly termed “hard sell” and “soft sell.” Hard-sell advertising, Hopkins’s specialty, typically uses blunt, logical-sounding appeals focusing on specific product features. Hard-sell advocates seek an immediate response from the consumer and tend to stress the importance of market research and copy testing in planning their campaigns. Soft-sell advertising, favored by Calkins, involves more diffuse and emotional appeals that persuade less directly. Soft-sell advocates stress less immediate results, such as building goodwill and creating brand personality, and tend to rely more on the “creative process” to produce an advertising message. Debate between advocates of hard sell and soft sell persists to this day, and the terms continue to provide useful analytical concepts in the discussion of ads.
No evidence exists that Hopkins and Calkins ever met, and some evidence indicates that they probably would not have liked each other very much if they had. Still, in historical retrospect they exist not as competitors but as co-conspirators in the development of the marketing practices we still encounter daily. One scholar accurately described Hopkins and Calkins as eyewitnesses to the birth of modern advertising. Their testimony is invaluable in understanding it.
Childhood Experiences of Religion and Commerce
Advertising did not even exist as a career option when Hopkins and Calkins were growing up, and nothing in their backgrounds would suggest they were destined to become influential architects of modern consumer culture. Their entry into the advertising business was unpremeditated and unforeseeable, and many of their business principles were sharply opposed, yet their starting points were curiously similar. Calkins was born a couple of years after Hopkins and a few hundred miles away. They grew up in rural Illinois and Michigan, respectively, under religiously conservative maternal influences that would not seem to foreshadow a future devoted to cutting-edge commercial practices. Nonetheless, they appear to be representative figures among early ad professionals who, according to historian Daniel Pope, typically came from small towns in the Midwest, were born after the Civil War, and often were the products of devout Christian upbringings. Their backgrounds did not cause Hopkins and Calkins to become advertising men but apparently provided a type of foundation that served many early advertisers well in meeting the challenges of their chosen profession.
Claude C. Hopkins was born on April 24, 1866, in Hillsdale, Michigan. His grandfather, Alonzo Hopkins, was a minister and founding member of Hillsdale’s First Freewill Baptist Church and helped establish Hillsdale College, an institution officially endorsed by the denomination. Not surprisingly, religious fundamentalism played an important part in Claude Hopkins’s early life. Many of his relatives were clergymen, but Claude’s father, Fernando F. Hopkins, followed a different path. After graduating from Hillsdale College, he worked as a printer in Midland, Michigan, and then moved to Ludington, Michigan, where in 1872 he bought part-interest in the local weekly newspaper, the Mason County Record.
Hopkins reported in his memoirs that his father had been “bred and schooled in poverty,” but it appears F. F. Hopkins (as he was listed on the newspaper’s nameplate) was making a name for himself in the community. In 1873, he was one of five local residents on a committee that oversaw the planning and construction of a new county courthouse. In 1874, he was listed as secretary of the county’s Republican Party. Without a doubt, however, young Claude’s fortunes took a downturn a few years later when Fernando Hopkins’s departure left the family on hard times. To help support his mother and younger sister, starting at about age ten, Hopkins performed janitorial and maintenance work, delivered newspapers and distributed handbills, picked fruit, and did door-to-door selling. By the time he had completed high school, he had a flinty, unsentimental view of life and labor and was utterly unfazed by the prospect of a sixteen-hour workday.
Hopkins spoke later in highly favorable terms about his mother’s influence on him, but he was less than pleased with the umbrella of religiosity beneath which the family was forced to huddle. He recalled attending five church services on a typical Sunday, a day when he was not allowed to read anything but the Bible and Concordance. He wrote, “Seemingly every joy in life was a sin. I was taught that people who danced, played cards or attended the theater belonged to the devil’s ranks.” As a young man, Hopkins became permanently estranged from his mother and her strict religious views, and author Stephen Fox has plausibly speculated that Hopkins’s religious zeal was redirected toward his later work in advertising. Certainly, Hopkins adhered to monastic work habits throughout his life. Perhaps more important, he also maintained a rather Calvinistic worldview, in which human nature was fixed and immutable, and therefore human behavior was predictable and inevitable. This attitude informed many of his advertising strategies and may have limited any inclination to consider the social implications and impact of his work. “We advertisers must take the world as we find it,” he wrote in the 1890s. “Our business is to win people, not make them over.” His deterministic outlook seems to have allowed Hopkins to glide into the modern age—with its tremendous technological, demographic, and social changes—without ever losing a sort of Victorian certainty in the fundamental workings of the world.
Earnest Elmo Calkins was born on March 25, 1868, in the “tiny weed-grown Illinois village” of Geneseo. Within a few months, his father had moved the family about forty miles to Galesburg, which Calkins ever after thought of as his hometown. Galesburg and Knox College were founded at the same time in the mid-1830s by a revivalist preacher who envisioned a community where young men would do manual labor in return for theological training as missionaries. The town became a commercial center after the railroad arrived in 1854, and between 1850 and 1870, its population grew from 860 to more than 10,000. Calkins’s family life replicated the town’s mixture of religious and commercial values.
Calkins’s father worked as a clerk and delivery man for a Galesburg grocer while he studied law at night. Somewhat like Hopkins, Calkins recalled childhood impoverishment and described his father’s life as “a grim struggle to better himself.” By the time Earnest Elmo was three years old, however, his father was a practicing attorney, commencing a slow but steady social climb. City directories show that the elder Calkins served one term as Galesburg city attorney and two terms on the school board. The family moved four times before Calkins was eighteen years old, ending up in one of the city’s best residential neighborhoods. His father did not achieve the eminence and independence of self-employment, however, abandoning private practice after a few years to work as attorney and assistant manager for the Covenant Mutual Life Association, a mutual-aid organization connected with the International Order of Odd Fellows. Calkins’s mother came from stern Baptist stock. He recalled his maternal grandfather’s religious philosophy in terms almost identical to Hopkins’s boyhood memories: “In his austere creed whatever was pleasant was wrong.” Rather than making a dramatic break with his religious past, Calkins developed a detached but inquisitive and open-minded attitude, which led him to drift away from the narrow prescriptions of his upbringing. In the 1940s, he wrote that he had not been inside a church in more than forty-five years “except for weddings and funerals … and aesthetic visits to cathedrals and lesser churches of Europe.” His attitude toward work drew on similar tendencies, for Calkins tended to stress advertising’s aesthetic qualities and benefits, genially arguing its social value in popular publications such as Good Housekeeping as well as professional journals such as Judicious Advertising.
The formative influence of Calkins’s early life was not religion but the onset of deafness, which began after a bout of measles when he was six years old and grew progressively worse through his lifetime. Into the void created by his limited ability to participate in social interactions, Calkins poured a love of reading, writing, and visual aesthetics. In his earliest experiences at school, he was fascinated with the shape and form of numbers, but cared little for their use in computation. Similarly, he enjoyed the colorful maps of his geography books much more than the accompanying text. Later he became a collector of old maps and especially loved the work of the ancient cartographers, who upon reaching the limits of the known world simply filled in the rest from their imaginations.
Calkins considered the divergent elements of his family background to have left him a “human cocktail, with a jigger of rock-ribbed Puritanism and a jigger of irresponsible liberalism.” In fact, however, he did not seem to take after either of his parents, becoming committed neither to worldly accumulation nor to otherworldly salvation. He was rather dreamy and whimsical (which sometimes translated as prickly and temperamental) and concerned with maintaining a Victorian middle-class model of dignity, refinement, and civility in a hurly-burly modern age. Advertising was the improbable medium he chose for this endeavor.
A glance at the advertising that Hopkins and Calkins would have encountered as they grew up in the 1870s and 1880s suggests how undeveloped the business was during those decades. For example, in the advertisements that appeared in F. F. Hopkins’s Mason County Record, most goods were sold generically, locally, and in bulk. A typical advertisement for Ludington’s Pere Marquette Lumber Co. offered unbranded merchandise ranging “from a hair net to a fish line” and including “pork, putty, paints, beef, butter, beans and breadstuffs, cheese, crackers, coal and crockery.” The advertisement also mentioned clothing, dry goods, and medicine. In a small, local market, advertisers had little need to pursue brand-name awareness or try to create marketing distinctions between rival products in the same category.
Advertisements for patent medicines constituted a significant exception to this pattern, and their makers were among the most frequent and important national advertisers. These companies faced a different set of marketing challenges because they sought sales over a wide geographical area, might have to compete with dozens of similar products, and, as subsequent investigation showed, the actual efficacy of their remedies was often negligible. The major way such businesses could differentiate their products was through distinctive advertising, the pursuit of which often involved sensational forms of misdirection. A concoction promoted as the handiwork of monks from the Black Forest was actually manufactured in a four-story factory in Baltimore; the story of a man who had been partially cured of deafness was headlined: “Death Cheated of Another Victim”; and a medicine called Syrup of Figs actually contained no figs and was so named, as its makers explained, “not because in the process of manufacturing a few figs are used, but to distinguish it from all other laxatives.”
Some patent medicine ads consisted of nothing but unsupported and unelaborated claims of effectiveness, such as the Dodd’s Nervine advertisement that appeared in the Mason County Record in 1873). Others included purported testimonials from satisfied customers or simple illustrations. Often they were set in a dense column of type not clearly distinguishable from the paper’s editorial content. These manufacturers did exhibit a precursor to the modern marketing mentality as they experimented with concepts that came to be known as brand image and brand equity. Their advertising techniques were not systematically developed or exploited, however, and their flamboyant style brought an unsavory reputation that tainted the whole industry.
Calkins’s reminiscences of the same time period also reflect the ad hoc, informal way in which the business of advertising was conducted. As a teenager, he got a summer job as a printer at a Galesburg newspaper. Local merchants would submit rough copy for their ads, and printers such as Calkins would set the merchants’ ideas in type, arranging them according to their mood. The only attempt at creating graphic appeal usually involved a seemingly random medley of typefaces, exactly along the lines of the Pere Marquette Lumber ad. As Calkins remembered, “The rule appeared to be, every line a different face, and every line centered.” Even as a youth, Calkins was aware that more compelling strategies of display were desirable, and he immediately began to make efforts to improve the appearance of the advertisements as he worked on them.
The experiences of Hopkins and Calkins illustrate the relatively limited creative energy and business savvy being applied to advertising in the 1870s and 1880s. In Calkins’s words, advertising was “like electricity … a latent but dynamic force, inherent in things, occasionally manifesting strange phenomena, but waiting its Edisons and Teslas to make it the servant of man.”
Bissell Carpet Sweepers and Modern Advertising
By the early 1890s, the advertising landscape had changed drastically, but it still resembled those fanciful maps that Calkins so admired. Much had been filled in—advertising and mass media loomed far larger in the American economy and society—but much was still left to the imagination of individual cartographers, who sketched in details based on conventional wisdom from advertising’s past, personal prejudice and hearsay about advertising’s present, or speculation on advertising’s future. Manufacturers, merchants, ad agents, printing and engraving houses, independent copywriters, freelance artists, and dozens of trade journals engaged in spirited competition to define and control the meaning of advertising expertise. Trade cards, handbills, posters, billboards, streetcar cards, booklets, and promotional novelties offered popular alternatives to periodicals as means of publicity. The status of the professional advertising practitioner, the logistics of ad creation and placement, and the content and form of the advertisements were subjects of intense debate. The qualifications of the advertising expert, and even the need for such an individual, were equally in doubt. In a typical remark, one businessman of the 1890s reported, “We have had all sorts of advertising men here, men who knew it all, and they have only induced us to spend money which we have never got back. Frankly, I don’t believe in your advertising agent or your so-called expert.” Indeed, the existing distribution system of wholesalers, jobbers, and drummers was quite capable of publicizing goods to local retailers across a broad geographical area using established methods of face-to-face salesmanship. As Richard Ohmann has pointed out, “The practice of branding and nationally advertising products was one way of doing things among many, not a standard system of marketing.”
Out of this welter of possibilities and alternatives, the contours of advertising began to assume recognizably modern form toward the turn of the century when manufacturers increasingly turned to advertising in periodicals. Several interlocking developments prompted this shift. First, a new breed of mass-market magazines could consistently reach more potential customers than had ever before been possible. Second, manufacturers discovered that they could gain additional control over their destinies when they reduced the influence of middlemen by advertising directly to consumers. Also, the development of advertising as a symbolic system and a common frame of reference for a large segment of the population gave manufacturers a special opportunity to position their products as part and parcel of a modernizing, urbanizing, and technologically advanced society. Last but not least was the work of advertising creators, who became increasingly adept at using print campaigns to differentiate products and convince readers to buy.
The Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company provides an excellent example of such business trends. In the 1870s, shopowner Melville Bissell had begun tinkering with the mechanical carpet sweeper, seeking ways to make it more efficient. He received the first of many patents in 1876 and, after several years of successful sales, organized the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company in 1883. The Bissell sweepers featured the “central bearing brush”—a mechanism of ball bearings, springs, and rotating brushes—which allowed the device to adjust to irregularities in the floor surface and actually to sweep up dirt rather than just push it around. It was a significant improvement over previous sweepers and carpet beaters, which didn’t clean as well and raised choking clouds of dust. By the early 1890s, the company was manufacturing 1,000 sweepers a day, operated sales offices in New York, Boston, London, Paris, Hamburg, and Rotterdam, and had “representatives in almost every civilized country.” Its promotional literature claimed in 1893 that more than two million Bissell sweepers had been sold during the company’s relatively short history.
As with many manufacturing businesses, Bissell’s early marketing efforts consisted mainly of salesmen going from dealer to dealer and attempting to convince them to purchase Bissell sweepers to sell in their stores. This system was expensive and not always adequate for a company operating on such a large scale. As technical innovations and large-scale production led to national (even global) marketing efforts, the company turned increasingly to periodical advertising. In about 1890, Hopkins, who was working in the Bissell bookkeeping department, convinced Charles Judd, the company’s vice president and manager, to give him a trial run as an ad writer. Hopkins’s motivation ran no deeper than his realization that company employees in sales had much greater earnings potential than those doing clerical work. Yet he approached his new assignment with an almost clairvoyant sense of advertising’s possibilities.
One of Hopkins’s first moves was to designate the Bissell sweeper as “the most popular Christmas present in the world” and promote it as a holiday gift with brochures that pictured Santa delivering a Bissell sweeper to an apron-wearing woman clutching a broom. This approach completely reconceptualized the company’s marketing strategy. Bissell had been founded on the technological and functional superiority of its sweeper, and the company had relied upon utilitarian sales pitches. An 1889 brochure touted “the celebrated Bissell Broom Action, our new patent reversible ball and automatic attachments, our new ‘B.G.R.’ spring dumping device…. our new ‘Everlasting’ pure bristle brush, the manufacture of which is covered absolutely by our patents.” When company managers criticized Hopkins’s distinctly non-technical selling approach, the aspiring ad man told them: “I am talking to women. They are not mechanics. I want to talk the things which they will understand and appreciate.” In 1890, the company notified dealers that it would support its Christmas sales promotion with advertisements in nearly two-dozen popular magazines and more than a thousand newspapers. By 1894, the company was supplying dealers with a sixteen-page booklet titled “The Queen of Christmas Gifts: Bissell’s Grand Rapids Carpet Sweeper, How to Suggest It.”
In 1891, Hopkins conceived the idea of marketing Bissell sweepers in different woods and finishes, creating distinctive, stylish, and even exotic associations for the product. For example, he capitalized on the enormous publicity generated by the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 to advertise that Bissell had “taken twelve sorts of woods from the World’s Fair forestry building and made up a line of uniquely rich Bissell sweepers.” The wood ranged from mahogany and cherry to quarter-sawn English oak and California redwood. In other years, he advertised sweepers that used metal parts made of nickel, polished brass, or polished copper so as to complement a particular wood finish; sweepers with a different and distinctive “hand-decoration” applied for each style of finish; and sweepers that he promised would be hand-polished as “they have never been polished before.”
In 1894, Hopkins launched his most elaborate campaign yet, this time for sweepers made out of vermilion wood, a species of deep red color that the company imported from India. Hopkins created an elaborate backstory for this product. Letters to dealers emphasized the exotic origins of the wood (“it comes to us from India”), its rarity (“the government of India controls and cuts it, in a limited way”), and its long journey to the Bissell factory (“a six months’ voyage of 19,000 miles”). Rubber parts of the sweepers were dyed a wine color to match the woodwork, and “various delicate designs of Ormolu relief ” were added for a decorative touch. Dealers were required to display the sweepers prominently, using placards supplied by the company, and to place Bissell booklets into every package that left the store for a certain time period. Advertisements in popular women’s magazines pushed the same storyline. Hopkins described the campaign as his greatest Bissell success, declaring that the company made more money in six weeks during the spring of 1894 than it had made in any single year previously.
In making exoticism a central feature of this campaign, Hopkins borrowed from the tradition of patent-medicine advertisers, who frequently used “the glamour of long ago and the fascination of far away” to create interest in their products. In fact, some Bissell advertisements and booklets prepared by Hopkins used a variant of the testimonial technique that was also a staple of patent-medicine ads. But Hopkins moved far beyond these early advertisers when he conceived of promoting a utilitarian product like a carpet sweeper as a stylish gift item. In his various Bissell campaigns, he attempted to create urgency (“when these are gone they will probably not be made again in the history of the business”), snob appeal (“the richest wood in the world”), and novelty (“all will be distinct from anything we have made before”) for an item that had previously been sold primarily on the basis of its “patent dumping devices.”
From the beginning of his career, Hopkins had a knack for matching his sales pitches with popular modes of thought, and his approach to the Bissell ads synchronized with a wider cultural impulse to add ornamentation to machinery. Historian John Kasson has interpreted this technique, which was noticeably apparent on any number of massive nineteenth-century steam engines, as “an effort by engineers, manufacturers, and American society as a whole to assimilate the machine into republican civilization.” Hopkins also was undoubtedly aware that consumer products such as cast iron stoves and sewing machines had been designed with ornamental flourishes that were hardly functional. Both of these items, however, were large, expensive objects that would in a sense be on display in the household. Manufacturers had to domesticate their products’ industrial, machine-like appearances so that they would not clash with Victorian middle-class sensibilities of interior design and feminine propriety. In the case of sewing machines, they eventually devised drop-head tables so the appliance would disappear from view when not in use. Hopkins’s application of this approach to a product as mundane as a carpet sweeper moved this strategy into new territory, as the resistance of Bissell salespeople suggested. The elaborate and self-conscious manner with which he developed the concept represented exceptional marketing insight.
Even more impressively, the vermilion-wood campaign skillfully meshed the needs and interests of drummers, dealers, and consumers into a single campaign. Every aspect—starting with the physical appearance of the product and ending with the content and placement of retail ads—was carefully coordinated. He arranged the elements to blend together as deliberately and self-consciously as the wine-colored rubber and rich, red wood on the sweepers. In fact, his strategy bears striking resemblance to the concept of “marketing mix,” an influential theory that gained widespread influence beginning in the 1960s. As Pamela Laird wrote: “Hopkins may well have been the first advertising professional to develop a deliberate, conscious notion of the marketing problem, that is, the relationships between product and market that need to be altered for improved sales.”
Calkins’s experience with the Bissell company was more brief and indirect, but no less pivotal in the arc of his own career. Calkins gained his first glimmer of advertising as a distinct profession while editor of the Coup d’Etat, the student magazine at Knox College. In 1890, Calkins received a complimentary copy of the advertising journal Printers’ Ink, offering a free subscription if Calkins would publish an item in the Coup d’Etat touting the young trade journal. He accepted the offer and composed an absurdly enthusiastic blurb for the Coup d’Etat that praised Printers’ Ink as the “Messiah” that would take advertising and “elevate it to an art and reduce it to a science.” Through this old-fashioned barter-style transaction, Calkins received his introduction to the newly emerging discourse of the professional advertising practitioner.
Despite this, Calkins graduated from Knox in 1891 with no more thought of making advertising his career than Hopkins had a few years earlier when he joined the Bissell Company as a bookkeeper. Indeed, though obviously intelligent and articulate, Calkins appears to have been a rather indifferent student and possessed of no great professional dreams. After an unsuccessful two years attempting to establish himself as a printer or editor in New York City, Calkins returned to Galesburg and settled into a position with a newly revived newspaper, the Galesburg Evening Mail. He worked as a printer and wrote a column of local news tidbits and gossip, which he named the “Passing Show.” As was still the custom, local advertisers wrote advertising copy for the newspaper, where printers—including Calkins—set it in type according to their own judgment. Calkins soon learned that many merchants would happily seize the opportunity to divest themselves of responsibility for generating ad copy and also discovered that he had a knack for giving advertisements a readable and distinctive twist. He rented an office and went into business creating ads for local merchants, accumulating a client list of twenty-five customers who paid between 25 cents and a dollar per ad.
Among Calkins’s clients was the G. B. Churchill Co., a Main Street store that included Bissell sweepers among its merchandise. By late 1895, Hopkins had left Bissell, and the Grand Rapids company faced its first holiday season in years without his fertile ideas. As a result, Bissell adopted the ingenious strategy of running a contest with a $50 prize for the local dealer who created the most effective Christmas ad. To enter, the dealer had to submit a clipping of the ad as it appeared in the local press, meaning that for the cost of the $50 prize, Bissell was guaranteed an outpouring of advertisements in newspapers across the country. The contest drew 1,433 entries, and an advertisement Calkins created for the Galesburg store won first place.
The winning ad was highly competent for its day but not exceptional. It betrayed Calkins’s incipient interest in graphic design with its clean, unified typographical approach and an asymmetrical layout that set off the text with a two-sided border of small illustrations showing the Bissell sweeper in use. The design certainly made the advertisement stand out from others in the paper, and though rather simple, it was more creative than rival ads, which often called attention to themselves with intrusive, purely ornamental borders or garish, hard-to-read typography. Despite the clichéd pun of its headline, the text offered a persuasive sales argument that would not have been out of place in the work of more established ad writers.
At this point in his career, Calkins’s advertising expertise was not equal to that of Hopkins. Calkins was two years younger, and his entry into the field was delayed by five years in and out of college and the two-year sojourn as a printer and editor in New York. The significance of the ad is that it showed how thoroughly committed Bissell had become to periodical advertising and that the recognition it earned Calkins inspired him to think more seriously about advertising as a genre and as a career. Within weeks of winning the contest, he accepted a position as ad manager at a Peoria department store and never again worked in any other capacity except as an advertising expert.
Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company advertising during this time was emblematic of mass marketing’s formative phase, as were Hopkins’s and Calkins’s contributions to it. Out of a mixture of circumstances—including developments in manufacturing, transportation, and communications, as well as in the broader culture—widely scattered individuals in businesses around the country began to piece together the elements of the modern advertising. Bissell was one node in this growing web of advertising activity, and Hopkins and Calkins were among the catalysts stimulating its growth. They joined the vigorous advertising debate that was occurring in dozens of newly formed trade journals such as Printers’ Ink. Hopkins and Calkins, even when working on the margins of the industry, eagerly sought a role in shaping the field. By the time they wrote their Bissell ads, both men had already begun contributing to the trade press, as they continued to do throughout the decade. Bissell provided Hopkins and Calkins with a gateway through which they passed en route to advertising’s future. As we follow their careers through the late 1890s, we will see how quickly they developed their ideas of what advertising ought to be.
Schlitz: The Beer that Made Claude Hopkins Famous
In late 1894 or early 1895, Hopkins moved from Grand Rapids to Chicago and accepted a position as ad manager for Swift and Company, the meat-packing firm. Shortly after beginning the job, Hopkins discovered that when he was hired, the founder and head of the company, Gustavus Swift, had been traveling in Europe. It was Swift’s son who apparently had authorized Hopkins’s employment, and upon his return, the elder Swift was not pleased to discover a new employee who, as Hopkins put it, “was there to spend his money.” Swift never altered his initial distrust of Hopkins’s work. This hostility once again underscores the tentative status that advertising, and especially the “advertising expert,” held at that time in the world of business. Given Swift’s tyrannical approach to employee relations, it could not have been a pleasant situation.
Within about two years, Hopkins grew frustrated and accepted a job with patent medicine maker Dr. C. I. Shoop, who produced a variety of remedies at his Racine, Wisconsin, factory. Hopkins later asserted that patent medicines provided the perfect training for any ad creator and that “because of that fact, the greatest advertising men of my day were schooled in the medicine field.” However, the job did not begin to fulfill his appetite for work. Hopkins therefore spent his days devising promotional schemes for Dr. Shoop and his nights creating advertisements for a host of other products. When he recalled those years, he said: “I never thought of sleep. My whole ambition was to find ways to lead people to buy, and I found them in plenty. What I found then has been the foundation of all the success I have gained.”
Additional opportunities started to come Hopkins’s way in the fall of 1898, when a Chicago advertising agent named J. L. Stack left Lord and Thomas, one of that city’s top agencies, to go into business for himself. Stack appears to have been a typical wheeler-dealer agent of the period, less interested in creating effective ads than in buying space as cheaply as possible from periodicals and selling it as profitably as possible to clients. He had once operated an agency in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he was known mainly for his cut-rate prices and unhurried approach toward paying his bills. In the mid-1890s, he moved to Chicago to join Lord and Thomas, and when he left he took eight of that firm’s accounts with him, using them as the basis for his own agency. One of his clients was the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, which transferred its business from Lord and Thomas to Stack with an advertising appropriation of $250,000, a good-sized account in those days. Stack, an old-style agent, operated his new firm with only an assistant, a stenographer, and an office boy. He had no intention of adding a copywriting department or art staff. When Stack needed expertise at creating advertisements, he reached outside the agency ranks and hired Hopkins as a freelancer to do work as needed. The Schlitz account was one of Hopkins’s first assignments.
Beer making was another industry that had developed to the point where advertising could offer crucial support in the cultivation of a large-scale, widely dispersed customer base. Until the late 1800s, the perishable nature of the product meant that beer could not be transported far or stored for long. Consequently, the business remained in the hands of thousands of local brewing companies. Then a series of technological developments made high-volume production and long-distance distribution feasible, and a few brewers began to develop national markets, tapping into the buying potential created in part by escalating urbanization and immigration in the United States. Beer production in the United States doubled between 1870 and 1880, doubled again between 1880 and 1890, and doubled again between 1890 and 1910.
Though the industry was primed for techniques that could build brand identity and customer loyalty on a mass scale, in Hopkins’s view the beer advertising of the day was nothing but mindless carnival barking. “They put the word ‘pure’ in large letters,” he wrote, “then took double pages to put it in larger letters. The claim made about as much impression on people as water makes on a duck.” The most celebrated advertising effort by any brewer in the 1890s had been a three-year campaign by Pabst, which featured striking, if irrelevant illustrations of scenes from ancient Egypt, medieval Germany, and the patriotic past of the United States. The ads came from the Chicago firm of Oscar Binner, a leader among those printers and engravers who were staking their own claim to be the shapers of the advertising future. Binner employed a large staff and styled his work as “modernized advertising.” Industry observers praised his ads for their “strong individuality,” and the company established a second office in New York, where Binner later became a director of the Sphinx Club, the city’s leading advertising organization. The style of the Pabst ads reproduced well even in poorly printed periodicals and stood out from the clutter of ads on a typical magazine page. However, the advertisements did not seem particularly “modernized,” offering only the loosest and most generalized connections between art, text, and product. The advertisements also attracted criticism from observers who complained about their historical inaccuracy, and Binner justified as artistic license such alterations as substituting the Pabst logo for the clock in Boston’s Old North Church. Nevertheless, many in the trade press praised the campaign for its bold and distinctive approach.
Hopkins characteristically had his own ideas about the proper way to advertise beer. He traveled from Racine to Milwaukee and was struck by the elaborate manufacturing procedures at the Schlitz brewery. The company managers saw nothing special about their operation, which was similar to that of all large brewers, but Hopkins recognized the potential for what he had begun to call “dramatic salesmanship.” Schlitz began running a series of ads with headlines such as “Every Bottle Sterilized” and “Beer that is Healthful.” Like other beer ads, the Schlitz campaign was based on assertions of “purity”; but rather than bland generalities, it relied on seemingly dispassionate logic and argument, peppering its copy with specific-sounding claims about filtered air, frigid pipes, air-tight cauldrons, and “refrigerating rooms”. The ads often described the Schlitz beer-making process at length, and the copy had a rational, scientific sound: “The impurities we guard against most are in the form of bacteria. Their importance lies in the fact that they multiply, because beer is a saccharine product. A few may in a month become millions. That’s why we brew Schlitz in air-tight cauldrons. That’s why we cool it in filtered air, why we filter the beer, why we sterilize every bottle. The slightest taint of impurity is entirely impossible.” The campaign was successful for Schlitz, although perhaps not quite to the extent that Hopkins claimed. It also received praise in the trade press, where Advertising Experience reported: “The advertisements of Schlitz beer are being transformed into pages of sensible arguments. The page this month describes a process of beer manufacture which should be interesting to all beer drinkers.”
The Schlitz campaign was significant for Hopkins’s use of the “preemptive claim.” The ads never said that Schlitz was the only beer maker to sterilize its bottles or filter its beer; Schlitz merely was the first to tout these benefits. Once Schlitz established this association in the public’s mind, any other beer maker who made similar statements would appear to be a copycat or Johnny-come-lately. Hopkins had adopted a view that unashamedly glorified advertising’s power to create consumer preference for a product that had no functional advantage over competitors. A century after these ads first appeared they were still studied as an advertising model. A 1990s marketing manual quoted several passages from Hopkins’s own commentary on the Schlitz campaign and concluded, “The principle that Hopkins describes here is timeless. Only the media tools and techniques have changed.”
The Schlitz advertisements also offer a striking example of the increasing prominence and importance of advertising as cultural discourse, for the campaign was brilliantly conceived for a public that was increasingly fearful of tainted food, mesmerized by advances in science and medicine, and adjusting uneasily to the ongoing transition from Victorian to modern society. The connection between the Schlitz ads and the pure food movement was overt. During the last third of the nineteenth century, the expansion of cities and large-scale production of foodstuffs led to a series of scandals involving impure products. Sometimes food was tainted accidentally because of unsanitary practices in the processing facilities; sometimes it was adulterated deliberately to cut costs. From the mid-1880s onward, a succession of government reports found plaster of Paris in flour, bits of rope in ground meat, and iron oxide in cayenne pepper, among other problems. Beermakers were not exempt. Newspaper exposés revealed brewers who used cheap substitutes (some of them toxic) in place of more expensive hops, added tannic acid to their brews as a preservative, employed glycerin (composed of the refuse from lard rendering) to speed fermentation, and mixed in bicarbonate of soda to enhance the product’s frothiness. Club women, muckraking journalists, medical men, and other Progressive Era reformers began to focus the public’s attention on such problems and to agitate for change, leading eventually to the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.
Not coincidentally, anxiety about these issues grew as germ theory gained widespread acceptance among the medical profession and the public. Concerns about microbial contamination intensified as a large segment of the population experienced for the first time a mingling of unfamiliar products and unknown people, thanks to the expanding geographic scale for distribution of consumer goods, the increased personal contact caused by urbanization, and an influx of immigrants who seemed to native-born Americans to be “particularly unassimilable and disease prone.” At the same time, physicians actively worked to consolidate their professional authority through control of procedures for licensure, medical education, and use of medication.
What could be a more effective response to these circumstances than a typical Hopkins ad for Schlitz that was headlined, “Ask Your Physician About It”:
Ask him how germs affect beer and he will tell you that few stomachs can digest them. He will say that impure beer is unhealthy. You will know then why we brew Schlitz Beer under such rigid precautions— why we even filter the air that touches it; why we filter the beer, then sterilize every bottle. If you knew what we know, and what your physician knows about beer, you would insist on Schlitz.
Metaphorically, these ads also connected to contemporary concerns for “social purity,” a term that encompassed a broad range of issues relating to sexual behavior and attitudes. Many pure-food advocates—including women’s rights activists and physicians—joined clergymen, business people, and other reformers in this cause. Indeed, the social purity crusaders used the concepts of “moral contagion” and “moral diet” to define their issues in the same terms as the pure-food reformers. Industrial production and the growth of a laboring class, urban crowding, technological breakthroughs, the growing secularization of society, an increasingly pervasive and sensational mass media, and the upsurge of immigration combined to destabilize middle-class Victorian family and gender ideals. Historians have interpreted the purity crusade both as a conservative effort to constrain women in a Victorian domestic sphere and as a protofeminist movement to secure increased rights and respect for women in and out of marriage.
The ethereal-looking women who appeared in the Schlitz advertisements embody these concerns, for they symbolically evoked the spiritual, feminine ideal of the Victorian middle class. Sometimes the women in the ads were draped in classical robes, which in itself reflected homage to elevated ideals, but most often they appeared as winged angels or fairies. In fact, the “angel of the house” was a common Victorian conceit for describing woman’s role in society as a selfless, nurturing presence in the family circle. At the same time, the skimpy and sometimes rather revealing clothing worn by the Schlitz models, though perhaps appropriate to angels and classical beauties, diverged markedly from the layered, padded fashions of the day and conveyed a definite erotic charge, something that scholars have also identified as an undercurrent in Victorian thought. Idealized images of women, usually with classical or allegorical trappings, were staples of American fine art painting from the 1870s through the end of the century. The images satisfied Victorian prudery and sensuality at the same time. Viewers could persuade themselves they were viewing art, which both promoted moral refinement and licensed public display of sexualized images. The Victorian middle class could thus find symbolic resolution to its conflicts over sensuality.
The purity crusade had another strand wound tightly within it: a concern over racial purity. Sometimes this tension manifested itself defensively, as anxiety that the Anglo-American race was imperiled because its bloodlines were becoming adulterated. And sometimes it assumed a more aggressive form, as a call for the United States to assume the “white man’s burden” and “civilize” the world. A desire to maintain racial domination and distinctions was often focused on the upsurge of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe with distinctly non-Anglo language, religion, and culture. Similar attitudes exacerbated black-white tensions and produced an explosive increase in lynchings during this period. Such purity concerns were associated with medical and scientific advances through the popularization of such theories as social Darwinism and scientific racism.
The Schlitz campaign tapped into this cultural current as well. At about the time Hopkins began the campaign, the debate over racial hierarchy was compounded by United States success in the Spanish-American War. In the aftermath of the war, the United States adopted as national policy a project to uplift the world by spreading American values, an endeavor symbolized by the decision to assert direct colonial rule over the Philippines. The next year Hopkins produced an advertisement publicizing the shipment of a trainload of beer to Manila. It announced that “wherever civilization has gone Schlitz beer has followed,” noting by way of example that “Schlitz beer has been known in South Africa since the white man first went there,” thus directly attaching the product to the rhetoric of empire and racial purity. Indeed, the ad echoed the famous claim about the British empire by stating that “the sun never sets on Schlitz agencies,” and also asserted that “civilization demands purity, and that demand calls for Schlitz.”
Concerns over immigration and racial purity connected the ads to one other prominent social concern. Temperance activity was strong in the late 1800s, particularly among the native-born middle class, which associated the evils of drink with immigrant cultures and urban vice. The agitation of groups such as the Anti-Saloon League of America, which was formed in 1895, frequently led beer makers to characterize their product as a “temperance drink,” a moderate alternative to more pernicious distilled spirits. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Hopkins’s ads featured clinical, professional-sounding descriptions of the product and appeared in such well-regarded periodicals as Harper’s Weekly The placement and style of Hopkins’s ads may have been partially designed to mollify those readers whose reform zeal might have led them to attack the industry on moral and health grounds. Certainly ads headlined, “Beer that is Healthful,” “The Beer of Civilization,” and “Ask Your Physician About It,” were calculated to appeal to middle-class values of professionalism and propriety. In truth, however, brewers expended more energy fighting with each other and their hard-liquor business rivals than battling the temperance movement in this decade. Such infighting ultimately proved self-defeating, as intense business competition encouraged abuses that reinforced prohibitionist arguments and prevented brewers and distillers from uniting in their own defense. If the Schlitz advertisements embodied an appeal to middle-class respectability, it most likely was a side benefit in Hopkins’s drive to gain a competitive advertising edge on business rivals rather than a conscious effort to exploit demographically based market segmentation. Hopkins sought to understand consumer desires in concrete, empirical terms. “I know of nothing more ridiculous than grayhaired boards of directors deciding on what housewives want,” he once remarked. But in published comments, he appeared to focus his attention on a somewhat generic class of “ordinary people” whom he believed constituted the mass market, rather than trying to define distinct demographic niches for his products.
As advertising graphics, the Schlitz images had not been adapted to the modern idiom of selling, being rather reminiscent of the often irrelevant “art” illustrations that frequently appeared on trade cards and lithographs before the dominance of periodical advertising. Yet perhaps their effectiveness was precisely because they allowed Schlitz to frame an aggressive, modern sales pitch in a comforting, idealized context that connected to older values. Overall, the ads ought to evoke skepticism for historical interpretations of advertising built too emphatically around a shift from magical to managerial (or vice versa). While the text of the ads celebrates modern corporate values of efficiency and control, the images recall older alliances of consumption with enchantment as well as older concepts of woman’s nature and social status. One might interpret the ads as transitional texts, poised uncertainly and eclectically between old and new. Even more persuasively, however, they can be seen as representing a symbolic reconciliation of these worldviews, demonstrating that attitudes in this era did not involve decisive change but a convoluted realignment in which people struggled to defend aspects of the past even as they adapted to the circumstances of the new.
In the Schlitz ads, one sees advertising coming of age not only as a business tool but also as a symbolic system that refines and directs social discourse about a host of issues. If culture represents the “socially available names, markers, and reminders that guide human action and establish the meaning of human experience,” then beginning with the rise of mass media, advertising increasingly provided the frame of reference for these cultural markers. Advertising catch lines popped up in daily conversations, in stage shows, and even in sermons, much the same way advertising scenarios often function today as punch lines in political speeches, editorial commentary, and comic sketches. An advertising agent who lived through this era recalled “the rapidity with which these [advertising] phrases struck the popular fancy and became a part of everyday language.” Hopkins never self-consciously adopted the role of cultural intermediary, but it seems he had an instinctive inclination to encapsulate the cultural moment in his selling arguments. The Schlitz ads demonstrate the extent to which the increased reach of mass circulation magazines and national marketing campaigns were enhancing advertising’s importance as both business tool and cultural phenomenon.
Calkins and “the vision splendid”
During the years that Hopkins polished his advertising skills in Racine, Earnest Elmo Calkins moved ahead in his own career. Shortly after winning the Bissell prize, he left Galesburg and spent about a year as advertising manager for a department store in Peoria, then moved to New York to accept a position working for Charles Austin Bates.
Bates represented yet another faction that took up arms in the early advertising wars. Neither a printer like Oscar Binner nor an agent like J. L. Stack, Bates was the most commercially successful of independent advertising writers. Through the 1890s, most ad agencies did little beyond buying and selling advertising space, usually collecting their fees in commission from publishers. Agents spent little or no time preparing the advertisements, instead devoting their energies toward getting the most orders possible from advertisers and the cheapest rates possible from publishers. They secured business based on personal connections and persuasiveness rather than the services they offered. Bates took the opposite approach, focusing almost entirely on ad creation. As he said himself, “I am not in any sense in competition with advertising agencies.” Bates achieved considerable prominence through a combination of expertise, charm, hard work, and indefatigable self-promotion. Arriving a virtual unknown in New York in 1893, Bates formed the Charles Austin Bates Agency to create custom-made ads for individual clients and the Charles Austin Bates Syndicate to supply ready-made ads to some 4,000 subscribers. At his peak, Bates had branch offices in eight American cities and was one of the best-known and most quoted ad experts in the country. Once his business began to grow, Bates supervised its overall operation, solicited new clients, and self-promoted, but he delegated the actual creation of the advertisements to staff members. His firm became a launch pad for young ad professionals, and alumni of the Bates company went on to found at least a dozen advertising firms of their own. Calkins was one of Bates’s prize students.
For Calkins, the opportunity was ideal. Barred by deafness from the conversational interaction that greased most business transactions, Calkins had the affable, glad-handing Bates to act as liaison with clients and the public, bringing back assignments upon which Calkins turned loose his restless creativity. Though nominally a copywriter, his greatest advertising breakthrough concerned art. Just as Hopkins regarded contemporary ad texts as hollow bombast, Calkins believed the visual side of advertising was undeveloped and ill-considered. Despite his longstanding fascination with typography and visual aesthetics, in Galesburg he had little opportunity to educate himself or refine his thinking on the subject. In New York, however, he began to read about art, visit galleries and museums, and enrolled in a drawing class at Pratt Institute. Although he never became proficient as an artist, he learned to evaluate art and realized the possibilities it offered for advertising. As he wrote, “Here was what advertising needed and lacked, form, visualization, the attractiveness of color and design to strengthen its appeal to the eye!”
Calkins, as historian Michele Bogart noted, “became a self-appointed proselytizer for advertising art.” None of Calkins’s co-workers matched his insights in this area, least of all Bates himself. In Bates’s view, illustrations existed simply to grab the eye of readers so that they would read the copy. Bates’s philosophy of graphic design did not extend past the idea that “the advertisements should simply be made to look as well as possible under the conditions.” He referred mockingly to his staff ‘s efforts in this regard, once stating that their drawings “became very popular, although it might require some imagination-stretching to call it art.” Of the many creative minds in the Bates agency, Calkins most clearly saw the visual future of advertising.
An important series of advertisements Calkins worked on while with Bates began appearing on the back cover of the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1898, the same year Hopkins launched his Schlitz campaign. The ads represented a new strategy for the R & G Corset Company, a business that had already prospered with very little advertising. Following older practices, R & G’s sales efforts relied primarily on drummers, who plied local retailers with sales talk along with display stands, posters, booklets, and other promotional novelties to persuade them to carry the company’s goods. The general manager of R & G began his career as a drummer, and, as Bates recalled, “with the usual salesman’s attitude, he looked upon advertising as more or less of a joke.” In 1898, however, the company joined the growing number of manufacturers who were tying their marketing efforts to the new periodical mass media. Bates recommended the firm devote almost all its promotional budget to occasional, full-page, back-cover ads in Ladies’ Home Journal. An R & G official admitted, “When first the proposition was made to me to take the back cover of the Ladies’ Home Journal—at $4,000—I was appalled. But we have taken it several times now, have more to come, and have taken similar space in several other leading periodicals … and have no cause to regret it.” Calkins remembered feeling intense pressure when assigned to create these advertisements (the cost of just one of the ads was several times Calkins’s annual salary). After the ads began to appear, however, R & G recorded steadily increasing sales. Moreover, although the company virtually abandoned its previous method of courting retailers, the number of dealers carrying its brand jumped from 6,000 to 10,000.
The back page of the October 1898 Ladies’ Home Journal shows one of the new-style R & G ads. A photographic illustration dominates the ad, although it also contains a fairly long copy block describing a patented manufacturing process used by R & G. The overall approach subsequently won praise in Advertising Experience’s monthly column on current advertising: “The R & G corset page is good because it tells what it is about at a glance, shows the corsets in actual use on a beautiful female figure, and gives a strong argument in type which is not scattered all over the page as if it had been poured out of a shotgun.” The copy in the ad was a somewhat less-inspired version of Hopkins’s Schlitz ads, but its visual impact was in another category altogether. The R & G advertisement was larger than any corset ad that had ever appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, and it filled most of the space with a striking yet simple illustration, rendered in realistic photographic terms.
The image was significant for a number of reasons: its dominating display, the omission of classical drapery or fairy motifs to legitimate its sexual overtones, the depiction of an ordinary woman rather than an allegorical figure or celebrity—and its use of all these techniques in the mainstream media. For years, pictures of scantily clad women had percolated through popular culture on cheap lithographs and advertising trade cards, not infrequently exploiting the corset for prurient interest. These images circulated widely enough that historians have referred to the “underwear-obsessed popular art of the 1880s and 1890s” and have declared that cigarette trade cards featuring burlesque actresses and chorus girls were “the major mass form of erotic art in the 1880s and 1890s.” However, risqué advertising cards usually focused on figures from the entertainment demimonde. Illicitness was part of their appeal. They connected to that undercurrent of Victorian sexuality that aroused anxiety among the purity reformers, but they did not comprise a mainstream iconography in the same way that modern advertising images do—or in the way that an image in Ladies’ Home Journal could do when it entered nearly a million mostly middle-class homes every month. Indeed, erotic trade cards had a tenuous connection with the evolution of advertising message strategy because the same image might show up on cards promoting any number of products without any relevance or reference to the item being sold. In contrast, the R & G illustration delivered a specific sales pitch about a specific product and operated on a much more modern marketing plane of gender ideals, social aspirations, and psychological desire.
Corset advertisement illustrations in the Ladies’ Home Journal during the 1890s were as varied and ambiguous as attitudes toward the corset itself. Rarely if ever did they make a visual statement as striking as the R & G ad, however, and usually they employed some technique to mute the sexuality of their imagery. In some advertisements, for example, the corset was pictured separately, rather than on a model, and in others the illustrations depicted women who were fully clothed. Some models were distinctly more matronly than the R & G girl, and others turned more emphatically away from the viewer. Some ads included mother-and-daughter images, showed the model wearing a wedding ring, or featured a woman coyly draping a piece of fabric in front of her bare shoulders. In other ads, models did indeed appear with angel’s wings, as figures from Greek and Roman mythology, or literally placed on a pedestal, like a piece of classical statuary. Such images collectively may have represented a sustained discourse on women’s sexuality and social role, but the R & G advertisement was bolder in every way, distinguished by the youthful allure of the model, its high-quality production values, and the size of the image—as well as its strong reliance on visual selling techniques.
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Ironically, one month before the R & G campaign began, Ladies’ Home Journal editor Edward Bok announced that the magazine’s advice and fashion columns would no longer discuss undergarments because the subject could be “extremely and pardonably offensive to refined and sensitive women.” And indeed, Bates reported that in the early stages of the R & G campaign, Ladies’ Home Journal rejected one photograph as too immodest and agreed to publish another only after a retoucher in the magazine’s art department added “copious chest-protecting ruffles” to the top of the garment. Soon, however, even originally rejected images began to pass unchallenged into the homes of hundreds of thousands of Ladies’ Home Journal readers, referencing a host of issues about sexuality and gender that Bok would not countenance in the editorial columns of the magazine. The R & G advertisement meant to represent a behavioral and bodily ideal for the middle-class female reader, and it meant to make its product integral to this ideal. The R & G model was no less a feminine archetype than the allegorical figures, but she was a different kind of archetype, a commercialized idealization that women could aspire to emulate in their everyday lives. Calkins, writing of the campaign just a few years later, commented that in these advertisements “the conventional corset girl was abandoned and a new style of girl was introduced.”
Photographs were rare in advertisements at the end of the 1890s, despite technical advances that had improved quality and lowered costs for published reproduction plus a home-camera craze that generated enormous popular interest in the medium. In fact, almost twenty-five years later, only a small fraction of the most prominent advertisements in Ladies’ Home Journal included photographic illustrations. The infrequent and unimaginative use of advertising photos despite these seemingly favorable circumstances arose from the general understanding of photography as a vehicle for nothing but the most literal realism accompanied by advertisers’ dim awareness that they needed more idealized—or at least more expressive— illustrations to create desire among consumers. Not until the 1920s did art directors’ understanding of the creative possibilities of photo illustration become anything like an advertising industry norm.
The R & G image was an intuitive thrust toward a much more modern understanding of advertising illustration. It shunned classical or high art trappings often used to idealize the subject matter of advertising illustrations, a type of artifice that permeated not only commercial images but also fine art photography at the time. Yet in its choice of model, pose, lighting, and presentation, the R & G image offered an even more evocative projection of the feminine ideal that was powerful precisely because it was naturalized by photography’s seeming objectivity. The image blurred the line between realism and idealization on behalf of the product. It was elegantly simplified in its design yet quite bold in its presentation. Many fashion advertisements of the early twenty-first century offer little more than this in terms of advertising strategy and visual display. Calkins was a pioneer in the use of photographic images in advertisements. Indeed, in his memoirs he claimed for himself “almost the first use of photographic designs in advertising,” and he promoted his expertise in this area from his first days as a New York agency owner. Among his earliest contributions to the trade press were articles advocating the use of photographs and describing the practical aspects of working with live models in terms very similar to those adopted by innovative advertising photographers like Lajaren à Hiller fifteen years later.
Calkins most certainly understood that photography in advertising was more than merely an attempt to render the product as realistically as possible. Yet although he comprehended the deeper advertising dynamics that eventually aligned advertising and photography, Calkins did not display a particularly sophisticated understanding of the technical aspects of photographs and their expressive possibilities. His influence on the adoption of photography in advertising was indirect, based on a career rooted from the beginning in the promotion and innovative use of stylized visual imagery as a selling tool, along with his later, influential advocacy of modernist visual forms. Nonetheless, in light of Calkins’s subsequent contributions to the fields of graphic design and commercial art, it is easy to read backward to the R & G image and see it as embodying a forward-looking grasp of advertising communications.
Although still laboring in relative obscurity, Calkins was developing a philosophy of advertising as far-reaching as that of Hopkins, but along different lines. Hopkins’s approach stressed research and selling arguments; Calkins emphasized visual presentation and emotional connections. Within three years of his work on the R & G corset ads, Calkins was making plans with another Bates employee, Ralph Holden, for a new agency where the art department became known as “the training field of the new school of art directors and commercial artists who were to bring to business art the same ideals and conscientiousness expended in other phases of applied art.” One of his contemporaries later described the new agency’s impact: “I think no one will deny that Calkins and Holden were the first to sight the ‘vision splendid.'”
The End of the Beginning
The period described in this essay was formative for the careers of Calkins and Hopkins, as it was for the advertising business a whole. Before long, both men had become much better known. Calkins in 1902 cofounded an advertising firm acknowledged as establishing a new mode for agency operation. In 1905, he wrote a broad-ranging volume on advertising that was praised by a later scholar as “one of the earliest treatises on marketing.” In 1908, he organized the first art exhibition that focused exclusively on advertising illustration—all the while conceiving landmark campaigns for clients such as Force breakfast cereal, the Lackawanna Railroad, Arrow collars, and Pierce-Arrow automobiles. During those same years, Hopkins accumulated a fortune as co-owner and chief marketer for a nostrum called Liquozone. In 1908, he was enticed away from early retirement by the Lord & Thomas advertising agency, where he ascended to the position of president and registered striking success in campaigns for products as varied as Reo automobiles, Pepsodent toothpaste, Van Camp baked beans, Palmolive soap, and Goodyear tires. One copywriting colleague at the agency recalled a long list of Hopkins’s achievements and concluded that “many of his successes [were] bordering on the miraculous—miracles which could never have come to pass except for his magic touch.”
By the 1920s, both men had gained considerable stature in the business, and their sharply different approaches continued to define the breadth of advertising’s development. Hopkins’s enduring contribution to the literature of advertising was a 1923 book called Scientific Advertising, which propounded his belief in the empirical, business-like, and unglamorous nature of good advertising. Calkins, by contrast, published many articles during the same decade with titles such as “Beauty: The New Business Tool,” articulating his own vision of visual aesthetic and the appeal and power it could project almost independent of the product to which it was attached. Although greater recognition came to them by this time, Hopkins and Calkins had much earlier developed the advertising concepts that brought them success. They were hardly alone in devising new techniques, of course, but nonetheless they were trailblazers. George Rowell, agency pioneer and the founder of Printers’ Ink, retired in 1905 still insisting that advertising was simply “a means of causing it to be known what service you or I can render.” By that time, Hopkins and Calkins had long since moved beyond their advertising forbears in developing a coherent and complex understanding of advertising and promoting it to the world. The early lives and careers of Hopkins and Calkins—from their first exposure to newspaper advertising, through their work for the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company, to their creation of the Schlitz and R & G campaigns—show how far advertising thought had advanced, how closely it was already intertwined with the wider culture, and why it is necessary to move beyond the accomplishments of ad agencies in major urban centers to understand these developments. Hopkins’s relentlessly blunt sense of salesmanship and Calkins’s evocative approach to persuasion make it tempting to regard Hopkins as an old-school huckster and Calkins as a modern image-maker, but both men developed advertising techniques that had enduring impact. Their work did not so much extend earlier traditions of publicity as propagate a new marketing ecosystem, one that we still inhabit today.
1ï¿½This essay has benefited from the many sympathetic readings and good advice of colleagues and anonymous referees. It also owes a debt to a number of archivists and librarians, among whom I would like to thank particularly Carley Robison, curator, Knox College Archives; Chris Carron, curator of collections, Public Museum of Grand Rapids; and Karen L. Jania, head of reference services, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
2ï¿½Daniel Pope, The Making of Modern Advertising (New York, 1983), 112–83; William Leiss, Stephen Kline, and Sut Jally, Social Communication in Advertising, 3rd ed. (New York, 2005), 123–53; Michael Schudson, Advertising, The Uneasy Persuasion (New York, 1986), 168–77.
3ï¿½For critiques of the foreshortened historical perspective in studies of advertising’s cultural and economic development, see Richard Ohmann, Selling Culture: Magazines, Markets, and Class at the Turn of the Century (London, 1996), 216–18; and Liz McFall, “What About the Old Cultural Intermediaries? An Historical Review of Advertising Producers,” Cultural Studies 16 (July 2002): 532–52.
4ï¿½”Brand image” and the “unique selling proposition” are advertising concepts most famously associated with the 1950s and the work of David Ogilvy and Rosser Reeves, respectively. Hopkins developed the essential ingredients of both strategies years earlier, however, and both Ogilvy and Reeves freely acknowledged his influence. It was Ogilvy who wrote that Hopkins’s book Scientific Advertising had changed his life. Reeves’s manifesto on the unique selling proposition specifically cited one of Hopkins’s campaigns from the 1890s and declared that Hopkins’s “genius for writing copy made him one of the advertising immortals.” See David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man (New York, 1963), 202; and Rosser Reeves, Reality in Advertising (New York, 1961), 55–56.
5ï¿½Steven Heller, “Advertising: the Mother of Graphic Design” in Graphic Design History, ed. Steven Heller and Georgette Balance (New York, 2001), 297.
6ï¿½Roland Marchand, Advertising the American Dream (Berkeley, 1985), 26.
7ï¿½Fred K. Beard, “Hard-Sell ‘Killers’ and Soft-Sell ‘Poets’: Modern Advertising’s Enduring Message Strategy Debate,” Journalism History 30 (Fall 2004): 141–49.
8ï¿½Calkins once wrote that he thought Hopkins’s books were all “bluster and brag.” And Hopkins once wrote that an early Calkins campaign had failed because it was “built on frivolity” and “people do not buy from clowns.” Earnest Elmo Calkins to George Harrison Phelps, Jan. 17, 1929, Earnest Elmo Calkins Papers, Knox College Special Collections and Archives, Galesburg, IL; Claude Hopkins, My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising (Lincolnwood, IL, 1966), 184. These two Hopkins books were originally published in 1927 and 1923, respectively.
9ï¿½Vincent P. Norris, “Advertising History—According to the Textbooks,” Journal of Advertising 9 (Summer 1980): 6.
10ï¿½Pope, Making of Modern Advertising, 178–79.
11ï¿½Sketches of Hopkins’s life that have appeared in print contain numerous contradictions and inaccuracies about his early years, often citing other locations for his birth and childhood. Information from vital statistics, Census reports, city directories, and surviving copies of the Mason County Record locate Hopkins and his immediate family in Hillsdale in 1865 and 1868, in Midland in 1870, and in Ludington in 1872–76, 1880, and 1883.
12ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 9; History of Mason County, Michigan (Chicago, 1882), 18; Historic Mason County, Michigan (Dallas, 1980), 16; Mason County Record, Sept. 16, 1874, p. 4.
13ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 5, 19–24. Hopkins’s exact description of these circumstances is the statement: “When I was ten years old mother was left a widow.” Most historical accounts have taken him at his word, but there is evidence that he may not have been speaking literally and that his father had abandoned the family. No death was recorded for a person named Fernando Hopkins in the state of Michigan between 1867 and 1897, and a Hillsdale College publication lists an alumnus by that name living in Tacoma, Washington, in the early 1900s. There is little doubt that in one way or another Fernando left the family in the late 1870s, however, because Census records for Ludington in 1880 listed Hopkins’s mother (as head of the household) along with Claude and his sister, but made no mention of his father.
14ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 11–14, 30–34; Stephen Fox, The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Makers (Urbana, 1997), 53; Claude C. Hopkins, “Sensational Advertising,” Printers’ Ink 13 (Oct. 30, 1895): 3.
15ï¿½Earnest Elmo Calkins, “And Hearing Not—”: Annals of an Adman (New York, 1946), 3; Earnest Elmo Calkins, They Broke the Prairie (New York, 1937), 35–113, 197–220, 234–41.
16ï¿½Calkins, And Hearing Not, 61(quote). Information on the residence and employment of William C. Calkins came from Galesburg directories for years 1867, 1871, 1877, 1879, 1882, 1883, 1885, 1887, 1889, 1892, 1895, 1897, and 1898.
17ï¿½Earnest Elmo Calkins, “The Natural History of the Soul,” Atlantic Monthly, Nov. 1925, 625; Calkins, And Hearing Not, 29–32, 39; Earnest Elmo Calkins, “The Influence of Advertising,” Good Housekeeping, May 1909, 643–45; Earnest Elmo Calkins, “Fact or Fiction in Advertising,” Judicious Advertising 2 (Jan. 1904): 13–14.
18ï¿½Calkins, “And Hearing Not,” 50–56, 68, 181, 188, 309–11
20ï¿½Pere Marquette Lumber Co. advertisement, Mason County Record, Sept. 16, 1874, p. 4.
21ï¿½”Stories About Some Advertised Medicines,” Printers’ Ink 8 (Mar. 22, 1893): 407; “Agonizing Headlines,” Printers’ Ink 8 (Mar. 22, 1893): 398; J.F. Place, “Analyzing an Ad,” Printers’ Ink 8 (Mar. 8, 1893): 345. On patent-medicine makers as the earliest national advertisers, see Pamela Laird, Advertising Progress: American Business and the Rise of Consumer Marketing (Baltimore, 1998), 18–23; on journalistic exposés of patent medicines’ usefulness, see James Harvey Young, The Toadstool Millionaires: A Social History of Patent Medicines in America before Federal Regulation (Princeton, 1961), 205–25.
22ï¿½Dodd’s Nervine advertisement, Mason County Record, Sept. 17, 1873, p. 3. Concepts such as brand image and brand equity refer to advertisers’ understanding that the meanings and associations linked to a brand name have a financial and advertising value quite apart from the physical attributes of the product itself. For an introduction and overview, see Alexander L. Biel, “Converting Image to Equity” in Brand Equity and Advertising, ed. David A. Aaker and Alexander L. Biel (Hillsdale, NJ, 1993), 67–82.
23ï¿½Calkins, And Hearing Not, 95–96.
25ï¿½”Experts are No Good,” Printers’ Ink 28 (July 19, 1899): 32.
26ï¿½Ohmann, Selling Culture, 82; Laird, Advertising Progress, 76–91; Susan Strasser, Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market (New York, 1989), 58–63;
27ï¿½Ohmann, Selling Culture, 81–94; Pope, Making of Modern Advertising, 113–15; Laird, Advertising Progress, 160–63.
28ï¿½Z. Z. Lydens, ed., The Story of Grand Rapids (Grand Rapids, MI, 1967), 294; Albert Baxter, History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan (New York, 1891), 474–75; America’s Advertisers: Who They Are, Where They Are, How they Have Developed and What They Are Doing at the Present Time (1893; New York, 1976), 241; Bissell Carpet Sweeper advertisement marked “April 1890” in scrapbook labeled “miscellaneous 1889–1892,” Bissell Archival Collection, Public Museum of Grand Rapids; “Shall We Use The Bissells or Brooms,” pamphlet copyrighted 1893, Bissell Archival Collection.
29ï¿½Bissell was representative of a number of manufacturers who began experimenting with new marketing techniques around the same time. One advertising trade-journal article singled out Grand Rapids as “one of the busiest points in general advertising” and reported that “it may be said without any contradiction that the territory between Detroit and Chicago along the Michigan Central Railroad for 150 miles is the most productive 150 miles for general advertising in the United States, with a possible exception of New England.” See “Some General Advertising Centers,” Advertising Experience 7 (May 1898): 13;
30ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 41–43. Published sources have dated Hopkins’s advertising breakthrough at Bissell from 1887 to the “late 1890s.” The first concrete evidence of his impact on the company’s advertising that I have found comes from the Bissell Christmas campaign of 1890. The following year—1891—is the first year that Hopkins listed himself as “advertising agent” rather than a clerk or bookkeeper in the Grand Rapids City Directory. It is possible that he had begun his advertising work for Bissell a year or two earlier, but 1890 fits the timeline of his career most comfortably.
31ï¿½Bissell advertisement headlined “The Most Popular Christmas Present in the World,” Ladies’ Home Journal, Dec. 1890, p. 30; “Santa” brochure in scrapbook labeled “miscellaneous 1889–1892,” Bissell Archival Collection; “B.G.R.” advertisement in scrapbook labeled “miscellaneous 1883–87,” Bissell Archival Collection; Hopkins quotation from My Life in Advertising, 46; notation marked “Xmas advertising 1890” in scrapbook labeled “miscellaneous 1889–1892,” Bissell Archival Collection; letter to dealers, Oct. 1890, in scrapbook labeled “miscellaneous 1889–1892,” Bissell Archival Collection; “How to Suggest It,” booklet, Bissell Archival Collection.
32ï¿½Untitled advertising brochure; letter to dealers, Jan. 1894; letter to dealers, July 27, 1892; letter to dealers, Aug. 4 ; advertisement dated Aug. 189; letter to dealer, July 28, 1892—all in scrapbook labeled “miscellaneous 1889–1892,” Bissell Archival Collection. The letters are typed form letters and generally have neither salutation nor signature. Most include some variation of the notation “Dictated by C.C.H.” at the bottom.
33ï¿½Letter to dealers, Mar. 24, 1894, in scrapbook labeled “miscellaneous 1889–1892,” Bissell Archival Collection; Bissell Carpet Sweepers advertisement, Ladies’ Home Journal, Apr. 1894, p. 37; Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 48–50.
34ï¿½Young, Toadstool Millionaires, 174–76; Bissell Carpet Sweepers advertisement, Ladies’ Home Journal, Nov. 1893, p. 29; “Shall We Use the Bissells or Brooms?” brochure, Bissell Archival Collection; letter to dealers, Mar. 20, 1893, in scrapbook labeled “miscellaneous 1889–1892,” Bissell Archival Collection; Bissell Carpet Sweepers advertisement, Ladies’ Home Journal, Apr. 1894, p. 37; letter to dealers, July 27, 1893, in scrapbook labeled “miscellaneous 1889–1892,” Bissell Archival Collection.
35ï¿½John Kasson, Civilizing the Machine: Technology and Republican Values in America, 1776–1900 (New York, 1976), 160; Marguerite A. Connolly, “The Transformation of Home Sewing and the Sewing Machine in America, 1850–1929” (PhD diss., University of Delaware, 1994), 78–81, 117–24, 163–66.
36ï¿½Neil Borden, “The Concept of the Marketing Mix,” Journal of Advertising Research 4 (June 1964): 2–7; Laird, Advertising Progress, 179.
37ï¿½Earnest Elmo Calkins, “Printers’ Ink at 65,” Printers’ Ink 244 (July 24, 1953): 48; “Editorial,” Coup d’Etat, Apr. 8, 1891, p. 114.
38ï¿½Herman R. Muelder, Missionaries and Muckrakers: The First Hundred Years of Knox College (Urbana, 1984), 177; Calkins, And Hearing Not, 99–106, 135–40, 143–47.
39ï¿½Calkins, And Hearing Not, 147–50.
40ï¿½G. B. Churchill advertisement, Galesburg Evening Mail, Dec. 9, 1895, p. 8; Calkins, And Hearing Not, 151.
41ï¿½For example see, Hopkins’s letter in “Correspondence,” Art in Advertising 8 (Jan. 1894): 167; and Earnest Elmo Calkins, “A Bit of Early Book Advertising,” Printers’ Ink 9 (Dec. 6, 1893): 587–88. One of the earliest academic studies of advertising stated that more than 200 advertising trade publications emerged between 1888 and the turn of the century. See Sidney Sherman, “Advertising in the United States,” Journal of the American Statistical Association 52 (Dec. 1900): 29.
42ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 47. For glimpses of Swift’s strict and sarcastic treatment of employees, see Louis B. Swift, The Yankee of the Yards: The Biography of Gustavus Franklin Swift (Chicago, 1927), 160–65.
43ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 79–81, 88. Shoop marketed his “restorative” as a product that “strengthens the inside nerves” and “brings back the power that operates the vital organs.” See Dr. Shoop’s Restorative advertisement, Harper’s Weekly, Jan. 4, 1902, p. 29.
44ï¿½Editorial, Printers’ Ink 13 (Dec. 11, 1895): 46; “In Chicago Advertising Circles,” Printers’ Ink 25 (Nov. 23, 1898): 16; “What We Hear About Advertisers,” Advertising Experience 8 (Dec. 2, 1898): 23; Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 82.
45ï¿½Thomas Cochran, The Pabst Brewing Company: The History of An American Company (New York, 1949), 102–28; Ronald Jan Playchen, A History of Anheuser-Busch, 1852–1933 (New York, 1976), 45–46, 54–62; Brewers Almanac (Washington, 1981), 12.
46ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 83; for examples of Pabst ads, see Life, July 11, 1895, p. 30 (ancient Egypt); Life, Feb. 6, 1896, p. 107 (medieval Germany); Life, Apr. 15, 1897, p. 315 (American history); Michael E. Zega and John E. Gruber, Travel by Train: The American Railroad Poster, 1870–1930 (Bloomington, IN, 2002), 17; “The Movement against Fraudulent Advertising,” New York Times, Oct. 9, 1902, p. 16; “The Design in Advertising,” Advertising Experience 11 (July 1900): 12; “Chicago’s Illustrative Engraving Facilities,” Advertising Experience 10 (Apr. 1900): 9; “Criticised from the Hub,” Printers’ Ink 19 (Apr. 21, 1897): 28; “Those Pabst Inaccuracies,” Printers’ Ink 19 (May 19, 1897): 18; Charles Austin Bates, “Department of Criticism,” Printers’ Ink 13 (Nov. 11, 1895): 59.
47ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 83–84; Schlitz advertisement, Harper’s Weekly, Oct. 21, 1899, p. 1075; Schlitz advertisement, Harper’s Weekly, Sept. 16, 1899, p. 925; Schlitz advertisement, Harper’s Weekly, May 20, 1899, p. 509; Schlitz advertisement, Harper’s Weekly, Aug. 19, 1899, p. 827; Schlitz advertisement, Harper’s Weekly, Nov. 18, 1899, p. 1171. Hopkins explained his philosophy of “dramatic salesmanship” in an article he contributed to Nathaniel C. Fowler, Jr., Fowler’s Publicity: An Encyclopedia of Advertising and Printing (New York, 1897), 114–15.
48ï¿½Hopkins stated that the ad campaign vaulted Schlitz from fifth to a tie for first in the brewing industry (My Life in Advertising, 84), but a more recent beer industry reference book claims that Schlitz was already the third-largest brewer in the country by 1895. The same source indicates that Schlitz sales moved from 650,000 barrels a year in 1895 to more than one million barrels a year around the turn of the century (in fact, Schlitz began advertising the one million figure in 1903), which would certainly suggest that the company prospered during this time. See William L. Downard, Dictionary of the History of the American Brewing and Distilling Industries (Westport, CT, 1980), 168–69. For contemporary reaction to the campaign, see “September Magazine Advertising,” Advertising Experience 9 (Sept. 1899): 21; “March Magazine Advertising,” Advertising Experience 10 (Mar. 1900): 22.
49ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 84; Stan Rapp and Tom Collins, The Great Marketing Turnaround (Englewood, NJ, 1990), 189–90. One thing Hopkins did not do was coin the phrase “The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous,” despite many published accounts that credit him with this achievement. The slogan may date back to the 1870s and certainly was in use before Hopkins went to work on the Schlitz account.
50ï¿½Lorine Swainston Goodwin, The Pure Food, Drink, and Drug Crusaders, 1879–1914 (Jefferson, NC, 1999), 6, 40–44; “Are Advertised Food Products Adulterated?” Advertising Experience 9 (June 1899): 2.
51ï¿½Nancy Tomes, The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life (Cambridge, MA, 1998), 5–12, 108–12; Paul Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine (New York, 1982): 18–19, 101–16, 127–34. “Particularly unassimilable” quotation from Tomes, Gospel of Germs, 111.
52ï¿½Schlitz advertisement, Harper’s Weekly, July 21, 1900, p. 681. For a description of the manner in which other manufacturers were making use of germ-consciousness in their advertisements, see Tomes, The Gospel of Germs, 161–71.
53ï¿½John D’Emilio and Estelle Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, 2nd ed. (Chicago, 1997), 139–60; Alison M. Parker, Purifying America: Women, Cultural Reform, and Pro-Censorship Activity, 1873–1933 (Urbana, 1997), 1–13; David J. Pivar, Purity Crusade: Sexual Morality and Social Control (Westport, CT, 1973), 157–69.
54ï¿½D’Emilio and Freedman, Intimate Matters, xiii; Lori Anne Loeb, Consuming Angels: Advertising and Victorian Women (New York, 1994), 33–42; Bailey Van Hook, Angels of Art: Women and Art in American Society, 1876–1914 (University Park, PA, 1996), 1–3, 97–104, 187–200; Peter Gay, The Bourgeois Experience, vol. 1, Education of the Senses (New York, 1984), 391–402.
55ï¿½Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of A Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, MA, 1998), 68–90; Joel Williamson, The Crucible of Race: Black-White Relations in the American South since Emancipation (New York, 1984), 111–19, 183–85, 195–223; Edward L. Ayers, Vengeance and Justice: Crime and Punishment in the Nineteenth-Century American South (New York, 1984), 237–43, 249–50; Stewart E. Tolnay and E. M. Beck, A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882–1930 (Urbana, 1995), 17–27, 46–50, 65–79; Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization (Chicago, 1995), 46–53.
56ï¿½Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 205–22; Bederman, Manliness and Civilization, 178–206; Schlitz advertisement, Harper’s Weekly, July 22, 1899, p. 731—the advertisement appeared again in the same publication on Sept. 30, 1899, p. 999.
57ï¿½K. Austin Kerr, Organized for Prohibition: A New History of the Anti-Saloon League (New Haven, 1985), 76–89; Thomas Pegram, Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800–1933 (Chicago, 1997), 98–99, 107–08; W. J. Rorabaugh, “Beer, Lemonade, and Propriety in the Gilded Age” in Dining in America, ed. Kathryn Grover (Amherst, NY, 1987), 26–32.
58ï¿½Historian Frank Luther Mott characterized Harper’s Weekly as “stronger editorially and more dignified” than its competitors of the era. See Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism: A History, 1690–1960, 3rd ed. (New York, 1962), 379.
59ï¿½Schlitz advertisements, Harper’s Weekly, May 20, 1899, p. 509; Mar. 17, 1900, p. 258; and July 21, 1900, p. 681.
60ï¿½Kerr, Organized for Prohibition, 24–34; Pegram, Battle Demon Rum, 96–101.
61ï¿½Hopkins, My Life in Advertising, 24–25.
62ï¿½Ellen Gruber Garvey, The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture, 1880s to 1910s (New York, 1996), 100–02, 192n16; Loeb, Consuming Angels, 42; Laird, Advertising Progress, 94; Van Hook, Angels of Art, 5; T. J. Jackson Lears, Fables of Abundance (New York, 1994), 151, 118–19. Lears has posited a movement in advertising from carnivalesque enchantment to bureaucratic rationality as the nineteenth century turned to the twentieth. Other writers, such at Patricia Johnston, have argued for something of the reverse, a shift from rational, reason-why messages to atmospheric, emotional appeals. I believe both scenarios oversimplify the multifaceted nature of advertising, which at every period has seemed to explore all points along a rational-emotional spectrum using a multitude of competing or composite techniques. See Lears, Fables of Abundance, 154–61; Patricia Johnston, Real Fantasies: Edward Steichen’s Advertising Photography (Berkeley, 1997), 60–62.
63ï¿½Schudson, Advertising, the Uneasy Persuasion, xxi; Editorial, Printers’ Ink 11 (Aug. 22, 1894): 285; Frank Presbrey, The History and Development of Advertising (1929; New York, 1968), 365, 370–72.
64ï¿½Ohmann, Selling Culture, 81–94; Pope, Making of Modern Advertising, 113–15; Laird, Advertising Progress, 160–63.
65ï¿½Addison Archer, “Bates on Bates,” Printers’ Ink 13 (Aug. 14, 1895): 3–10; Charles Austin Bates, “First Person Singular, Chapter II,” Advertising and Selling 12 (Apr. 3, 1929): 88; Charles Austin Bates, “First Person Singular, Chapter IV,” Advertising and Selling 13 (May 1, 1929): 23–24; Charles Austin Bates, “First Person Singular, Chapter VIII,” Advertising and Selling 13 (June 26, 1929): 23; Charles Austin Bates, “John E. Powers and the Beginnings of Advertising Writing,” Printers’ Ink 107 (May 1, 1919): 25; Charles Austin Bates, “Interest—Initiative— Enthusiasm, How They Were Developed” Printers’ Ink 94 (Mar. 16, 1916): 17.
66ï¿½Calkins, And Hearing Not, 160, 167–69.
67ï¿½Michele Bogart, Artists, Advertising and the Borders of Art (Chicago, 1995), 49; Charles Austin Bates, “Department of Criticism,” Printers’ Ink 27 (Apr. 5, 1899): 60; Bates, “First Person Singular—Chapter II,” 92.
68ï¿½Bates, “First Person Singular, Chapter VIII,” 62, 64–65; J. W. Schwartz, “R & G Corsets,” Printer’s Ink 28 (July 19, 1899): 3–5; Calkins, And Hearing Not, 161. The figures for the increased number of retail dealers comes from Bates, “First Person Singular, Chapter VIII,” 65; Calkins estimated the increase as 7,500 to 11,000 in Earnest Elmo Calkins and Ralph Holden, Modern Advertising (1905; New York, 1985), 58; the company official gave no specifics, saying only that “our growth has been a steady one,” in “R & G Corsets,” 5.
69ï¿½R & G Corset advertisement, Ladies Home Journal, Oct. 1898, back cover; “Advertisements, Catalogs, and Booklets,” Advertising Experience 9 (June 1899): 20.
70ï¿½Lears, Fables of Abundance, 148–53; Anne Hollander, Seeing Through Clothes (Berkeley, 1993), 133; Lois Banner, American Beauty (Chicago, 1983), 151; Laird, Advertising Progress, 94; Tom Reichart, The Erotic History of Advertising (Amherst, NY, 2003), 49–55. “Underwear obsessed” quotation from Hollander, Seeing Through Clothes, 133. “Major mass form” quotation from Banner, American Beauty, 151.
71ï¿½Comments and descriptions of corset ads based on examination of the Ladies’ Home Journal from 1895 through 1898.
72ï¿½”Editorial Notice,” Ladies’ Home Journal, Feb. 1898, p. 28; “A Distinction—or a Difference,” Charles Austin Bates’s Criticisms 3 (May 1898): 295–96; Charles Austin Bates, “Twenty-Eight Years After,” Advertising and Selling 6 (Feb. 24, 1926): 32, 34, 72; Calkins and Holden, Modern Advertising, 57; Ralph Bogardus made astute observations about corset ads and turn-of-the-century concepts of female identity in “Corset Ads, Photography, and the Imaging of the ‘New Woman’ in the Ladies’ Home Journal,” paper read at American Studies Association annual meeting, Toronto, Nov. 3, 1989; and “Corset Ads, New Women, and Flappers: Plots of Confinement and Liberation in the Ladies’ Home Journal, 1896–1915,” paper read at the Modern Language Association annual meeting, Washington, DC, Dec. 19, 1996.
73ï¿½Estelle Jussim, Visual Communication and the Graphic Arts: Photographic Technologies of the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1974), 288–321; Robert Taft, Photography and the American Scene (1938; New York, 1964), 435–47; Helmut Gernsheim, The History of Photography from the Camera Obscura to the Beginning of the Modern Era, 2nd ed. (New York, 1969), 410–24, 549–52; Johnston, Real Fantasies, 27. Johnston found only 14 percent of half-page or full-page ads in Ladies’ Home Journal used photo illustrations in July 1922.
74ï¿½Elspeth Brown, The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884–1929 (Baltimore, 2004), 159–216; Bogart, Artists, Advertising, and the Borders of Art, 171–204; Johnston, Real Fantasies, 1–131; Robert Sobieszek, The Art of Persuasion: A History of Advertising Photography (New York, 1988), 16–31; Richard W. Pollay, “The Subsiding Sizzle: A Descriptive History of Print Advertising, 1900–1980,” Journal of Marketing 49 (Summer 1985): 24–37; Lears, Fables of Abundance, 322–29.
75ï¿½Calkins, And Hearing Not, 179; Calkins and Holden advertisement, Profitable Advertising 12 (Dec. 1902): 492–93; Earnest Elmo Calkins, “The Camera as an Ad.-Writer,” Profitable Advertising 12 (Apr. 1903): 1040–45. For Hiller on the use of models, see Brown, The Corporate Eye, 194–96.
76ï¿½Bogart, Artists, Advertising, and the Borders of Art, 207–12; Stephen Heller, “Commercial Modern: American Design Style, 1925–1963,” Print 49 (Sept.–Oct. 1995): 58–68.
77ï¿½Calkins, And Hearing Not, 195–206; First Five Years: Harvard Advertising Awards, 1924–1928 (New York, 1930): 13 (1st quote). Robert Frothingham, “The Agency Reborn—Bob Frothingham Remembers—VII,” Advertising and Selling 20 (Dec. 23, 1932): 26 (2nd quote).
78ï¿½Calkins’s own version of these events can be found in And Hearing Not, esp. 172, 203–26, 347, and in a series of articles he wrote for Advertising and Selling (see especially the issues of Feb. 17, 1933, on Pierce-Arrow automobiles, and May 12, 1932, on Arrow Collars). The book referred to is Modern Advertising. The quotation praising it came from Paul D. Converse, The Beginning of Marketing Thought in the United States (Austin, 1959), 31.
79ï¿½For Hopkins’s own account, see My Life in Advertising, 89–160. The quotation about his success comes from Harden Bryant Leachman, The Early Advertising Scene (1949; New York, 1985), 120.
80ï¿½Hopkins, Scientific Advertising; Earnest Elmo Calkins “Beauty: The New Business Tool,” Atlantic, Aug. 1927, 145–56.
81ï¿½Rowell, Forty Years, 31. For recent comments on their enduring influence, on Hopkins see James Twitchell, Twenty Ads that Shook the World (New York, 2000), 48–69; on Calkins see Stephen Heller, “A Cold Eye: Critical Lapse,” Print 57 (July-Aug. 2003): 24, 123–24.
By Rob Schorman