Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Advertising - it ain't new



We might think that annoying bank commercial blotting out our favourite YouTube clip or the latest lobby group campaign is just another symptom of living in the 21st-century, but, frankly, when it comes to advertising, the message stays the same, only the medium changes. "Vote for me" and "Don't vote for the other guy" advertising campaigns have been around since some Athenian decided it would be fun to to see how popular he was. In the Roman-era, things were no different. In fact, they were much more like today than we'd like to think. Every election season - November to December - hoardings were scrawled across the walls of the great Roman cities by professional sign writers encouraging "Vote for - add candidate's name - he's a good man." And it wasn't just the candidates who paid for advertising. Just like today, certain interest groups got involved too. In Pompeii we see a group of women in the ummm...service industry...encouraging their customers to vote for their favoured candidate - who no doubt was a good customer too. And just like those personalised tweets and posts appearing in social media and pretending not to be advertising today - Roman sign writers were very keen on abbreviations. "A good man" was usually written as "VB." "I beg you to elect him" was "OVF."

Here's an example of a surviving advertisement in Pompeii...

VEN.ET.GLAD.PAR.XX.M.TULLI.PUGN.POM.PR.NON.NOVEMBRES.VII.IDUS.NOV

Paid advertising Roman style - all you need is
paint, a wall and pedestrians


If you know your Latin SMS abbreviations this should read - "Wild beast hunters and the twenty pairs of Gladiators of Marcus Tullius will perform in Pompeii between the Nones of November (4th) and seven days before the Ides of November (7th)"

Wow, that's like OMG LOL