TV Shows We Used To Watch – 1955 Television advertising
Image by brizzle born and bred
When ITV launched on 22 September 1955, the BBC’s television service had been running unchallenged for almost two decades and was fast gaining popularity.
Less than fifteen months before the first television commercial appeared on British screens, on July 4th 1954, the Minister of Fuel and Power, Geoffrey Lloyd, burned a large replica of a ration book at an open meeting in his constituency to herald the official end of fourteen years of rationing in Britain. The dawning of a new age of prosperity was upon the British public. From a retailers point of view the start of commercial television could not have been better timed.
At 8pm, on September 22, 1955, ITV broadcast its first television programme. Its first advertisement came 12 minutes later advertising Gibbs SR Toothpaste. That first programme is now almost completely forgotten. But the first advertisement has acquired iconic status.
See video clip
The USA’s first television advertisement was broadcast July 1, 1941. The watchmaker Bulova paid for a placement on New York station WNBT before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The 10-second spot displayed a picture of a clock superimposed on a map of the United States, accompanied by the voice-over "America runs on Bulova time."
* The BBC tried to strangle ITV at birth on 22 September 1955 by killing off Grace Archer, a leading character in the radio series, The Archers.
* ITV’s launch night was marked with a lavish banquet at London Guildhall, where the menu included clear turtle soup, lobster chablis and roast grouse washed down with 1947 Krug.
* ITV went live at 7.15pm on 22 September 1955, with a line-up including the Hallé Orchestra playing Elgar’s Cockaigne Suite and an excerpt from The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Sir John Gielgud.
* The first full day of transmission was on 23 September, and included the weather presented by Squadron-Leader Laurie West.
* ITV had the first female newsreader on British TV, Barbara Mandell, who read the news on the second day on air.
* Before ITV launched, Lord Reith, the founder of the BBC, compared "sponsored broadcasting" to smallpox, bubonic plague and the Black Death (all of which were introduced to England from overseas).
* Opponents of commercial television were incensed when American TV coverage of the Coronation was interrupted for an ad break featuring a celebrity chimp, J Fred Muggs. A clause was included in the commercial television Bill banning ad breaks from broadcasts featuring the Royal Family.
* More words were spoken in Parliament about whether a law allowing commercial television should be passed than are contained in the New Testament.
* The Broadcasting Bill was given Royal Assent on 30 July 1954, paving the way for a new independent television service supervised by the Independent Television Authority.
* Household cleaning products were the most advertised products in ITV’s first five years.
* Adverts were placed in the press inviting applications from prospective programme contractors on 25 August 1954, attracting 25 replies.
* It is a myth that Sidney and Cecil Bernstein, the founders of Granada TV, chose to set up their company in the North, because it rained more, so they thought people would stay in to watch more TV.
* Lew Grade’s ATV consortium, which held ITV licences in London and the Midlands, changed the face of television entertainment. But the ITA turned down the impresario’s first application for a franchise, fearing it would give him too much clout.
* The first advert shown on ITV was at 8.12pm on its launch night for Gibbs SR toothpaste. At the time, more than a third of the population never brushed their teeth.
* ITV was the home of the first US TV shows to be broadcast in the UK, including I Love Lucy and the A-Team.
* Granada needed two transmitters for the northern region to serve both sides of the Pennines, but while the Lancashire transmitter was ready in time for launch night on 3 May 1956, the Yorkshire side was delayed until November.
* In the early days of ITV, the actors’ union Equity refused to allow repeats so, if a show was repeated, the actors had to perform it all over again.
* An Oxford postgraduate called Somerset Plantagenet Fry became a celebrity as the first contestant on the quiz show Double Your Money’s Treasure Trail in 1955.
* In 1958 Granada covered the Rochdale by-election, the first election to be shown on British television.
* Sunday Night At The London Palladium was one of ITV’s most successful shows. At its height in 1958, when it was presented by Bruce Forsyth, it was watched by 28 million people.
* Armchair Theatre, run by Sydney Newman, brought original plays to a broad audience, but in 1958 one of the cast died as Underground was being transmitted. The play went on.
* Gone With The Wind star Vivien Leigh made her TV debut on ITV in 1959, in a production of Thornton Wilder’s play The Skin of Our Teeth.
* The first episode of Coronation Street was broadcast on 9 December 1960. Writer Tony Warren originally called it Florizel Street and it almost became Jubilee Street.
* In 1962, the Pilkington report was highly critical of ITV and suggested the licence to run the third channel should be awarded to the BBC.
* In 1965, the ban on advertising cigarettes resulted in an £8m loss of revenue for ITV.
* ITV switched from black and white to colour in November 1969, prompting employees to strike for a pay increase for operating the new system.
* The Beatles made their TV debut in a live performance for People and Places, from Manchester on 17 October 1962.
* ITV’s first major ratings clash with the BBC was on 20 July 1969, when the two went head to head with their live coverage of the first man on the Moon.
* The tape of ITV’s coverage of the Moon landing has since been erased, along with many other programmes of the 1960s and 1970s, so it could be reused.
* In 1968, London Weekend Television acquired the rights to the one-day cricket contest, the Gillette Cup. The MCC was furious when ITV interrupted play for ads. The MCC took cricket back to the BBC, prompting an ITV lawsuit.
* ‘Pop Stars’ presenter ‘Nasty’ Nigel Lythgoe made his first television appearance as a dancer on Sunday Night At The London Palladium.
* Robin Hood was brought to ITV by Hannah Weinstein, who had fled the US in the McCarthy era and employed other blacklisted Hollywood talent to make a show about a character who redistributed wealth from the rich to the poor.
* ITV pioneered the concept of the studio panel to discuss football matches during the 1970 Mexico World Cup.
* Richard Burton was one of the backers for HTV’s successful bid for the ITV franchise in Wales in 1967.
* ITV hoped to set up a second terrestrial channel like the BBC, but its hopes were dashed by the 1977 Annan report into the future of broadcasting.
* Lew Grade tried to keep down the cost of employing Roger Moore in The Saint by telling him episodes would last half an hour rather than an hour.
* The name of The Avengers’ character Emma Peel was an expression of what the producers were looking for – M[an] Appeal.
* Mindful of impact, in the making of Jesus of Nazareth, Lew Grade asked: "Why are there only 12 apostles?"
* The Sweeney was the first police drama to be shot on location in real streets rather than in the studio.
* It takes longer to watch ITV’s 13-part 1981 costume drama Brideshead Revisited than it does to read Evelyn Waugh’s novel.
* The US oil companies who usually sponsored ITV’s big dramas at first would not back Jewel In The Crown, saying India was too far away for the US audience.
* In 1973, the ITA banned a World In Action programme about the business affairs of bankrupt architect John Poulson, uniting The Sunday Times and Socialist Worker in a campaign against censorship.
* The South Bank Show first aired in 1978. When writer Richard Curtis applied to work for it, he was not even shortlisted.
* Greg Dyke was hired as editor-in-chief of TV-am in May 1983, when the new show was engaged in a frantic battle with BBC Breakfast and had just 800,000 viewers.
* City analysts reckon ITV’s first unsuccessful foray into digital , OnDigital, had losses of up to £1m a day. Even rebranding it as ITV Digital, with a campaign featuring a woolly monkey, couldn’t save it from going bust in 2002.
* In the first Pop Idol final, which pitted Will Young against Gareth Gates, on 9 Feburary 2002, the public cast 8.7 million votes and BT said the volume of calls had threatened the network.
* Bryan Ferry has admitted to being a fan of Footballers’ Wives. He said the show was: "Wonderful! All these trashy women wandering around done up to the nines. I love it."
* The final of the first series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here inspired some to recreate their own jungles. B&Q reported a 30 per cent rise in online sales of deck chairs, barbecues and garden arches.
* Nearly 13 milion viewers tuned in to watch Ken and Deidre Barlow get remarried on Coronation Street in April 2005; 7 million saw Charles wed Camilla the following day.
* Royal Mail is releasing stamps to mark the 50th birthday, but Kevin Whately’s image has had to be cut from the Inspector Morse stamp, as no one living, apart from the Royal Family, is allowed to appear on UK stamps.
* Nearly 90% of people watching timeshifted shows fast-forward the ads, but TV remains the most memorable form of advertising.
* Prior to the 1980s music in television advertisements was generally limited to jingles and incidental music; on some occasions lyrics to a popular song would be changed to create a theme song or a jingle for a particular product. In 1971 the converse occurred when a song written for a Coca-Cola advertisement was re-recorded as the pop single "I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing" by the New Seekers, and became a hit. Some pop and rock songs were re-recorded by cover bands for use in advertisements, but the cost of licensing original recordings for this purpose remained prohibitive until the late 1980s.
The use of previously-recorded popular songs in television advertisements began in earnest in 1985 when Burger King used the original recording of Aretha Franklin’s song "Freeway of Love" in a television advertisement for the restaurant. This also occurred in 1987 when Nike used the original recording of The Beatles’ song "Revolution" in an advertisement for athletic shoes. Since then, many classic popular songs have been used in similar fashion.
Songs can be used to concretely illustrate a point about the product being sold (such as Bob Seger’s "Like a Rock" used for Chevy trucks), but more often are simply used to associate the good feelings listeners had for the song to the product on display. In some cases the original meaning of the song can be totally irrelevant or even completely opposite to the implication of the use in advertising; for example Iggy Pop’s "Lust for Life", a song about heroin use addiction, has been used to advertise Royal Caribbean International, a cruise ship line. Music-licensing agreements with major artists, especially those that had not previously allowed their recordings to be used for this purpose, such as Microsoft’s use of "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones and Apple Inc.’s use of U2’s "Vertigo" became a source of publicity in themselves.
In early instances, songs were often used over the objections of the original artists, who had lost control of their music publishing the music of Beatles being perhaps the most well-known case; more recently artists have actively solicited use of their music in advertisements and songs have gained popularity and sales after being used in advertisements. A famous case is Levi’s company, which has used several one hit wonders in their advertisements (songs such as "Inside", "Spaceman", and "Flat Beat").
Sometimes a controversial reaction has followed the use of some particular song on an advertisement. Often the trouble has been that people do not like the idea of using songs that promote values important for them in advertisements. For example Sly and the Family Stone’s anti-racism song, "Everyday People", was used in a car advertisement, which angered among people.
Generic scores for advertisements often feature clarinets, saxophones, or various strings (such as the acoustic/electric guitars and violins) as the primary instruments.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, electronica music was increasingly used as background scores for television advertisements, initially for automobiles, and later for other technological and business products such as computers and financial services.
* Top 10 most controversial ads see link below