What was the world’s first tv advert?The first advert itself was broadcast in the US on July 1, 1941 over the New York station WNBT – which is still going as WNBC, ‘channel four.’ The advert was for watchmaker Bulova, and was shown before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. It read ‘Bulova Watch Time’, and showed a mashup of their logo alongside the WNBT test pattern, so that it looked like a clock face. It is thought that Bulova paid between $4 to $9 for the advert. A TV spot on a national television channel, during peak view demand like a sports game, would today cost several million dollars.
When was the UK’s first paid advert?In Britain, the first paid advert was broadcast in September, 1955 – a much later date, possibly because the BBC was a subscription service and had no need for adverts. The first ad then was broadcast on Britain’s first commercial channel – ITV. The ad was for Gibbs SR Toothpaste, now Mentadent SR and owned by Unilever. As proof that some things never changed, the ad starts off depicting a snowy riverbank while water flows audibly. The screen then cuts to a picture of the toothpaste; then a woman brushing her teeth and smiling. Finally, a molar being dipped in Sodium Ricinoleate – the advert says – and finishes on a box of Gibbs SR surrounded by ice. The ad also features Gibbs’ slogan: “It’s tingling fresh. It’s fresh as ice. It’s Gibbs SR toothpaste.” Gibbs won a lottery among 23 other contestants to be the first to show their ad: other contestants included Guinness and Summer County Margarine. Even though Guiness didn’t have the first British advert, they certainly rank as having the best: There have been countless memorable ads over the years, but everyone wants to know which was the first, and when it was broadcast. Hopefully we’ve helped answer that question!
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