I love to read old garden magazines. You learn a lot about the growth of…
Four kinds of garden advertising by 1900.
Advertising garden products like plants and seeds has long been an avenue for increased sales.
By 1900 at the launch of modern advertising there were four kinds of appeal in advertising messages, according to Thomas Schlereth in his book Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life, 1876-1915.
Schlereth writes: “Four overlapping cycles of advertising ‘styles’ appeared in the brief compass of two generations:
- plain talk, direct and factual copy
- jingles and trade character style – like Quaker Oats
- a concrete ‘reason why’ the product was worth buying
- advertising by suggestion or association – opulent art and striking layouts.”
In the January 1856 issue of Genesee Farmer, Rochester, New York seedsman James Vick first advertised French vegetable and flower seeds, because he “found it impossible to obtain in this country a good article of the finer sorts of seeds.” The advertising resulted in customers buying his seeds. It convinced Vick of the important role advertising played when selling his seeds.
By 1872 Vick spent $15,000 yearly on advertising. Today that amount would be $270,000.
The Vick Seed Company advertised in 3,300 newspapers and magazines like the American Agriculturist, the most popular agricultural magazine at that time. Vick wrote that this magazine “has a larger subscription list than any similar journal in existence.”
In his ad in the American Agriculturist of 1879, the following words appeared: “Vick’s seeds are the best in the world. Five cents for postage will buy the Floral Guide, telling how to get them.”
As an early advocate for advertising, his appeal was more closely alligned with the plain talk appeal with its use of direct and factual copy.
By 1901 New York seedsman Peter Henderson approached advertising by suggestion in selling his garden seeds. [below]
Notice the association with upper class social status in this ad: the mansion, the extensive landscape, the dress of the woman cutting hollyhocks. All of that opens up the idea that planting hollyhocks is linked to upper class fashion, money, and style.
You can have it all, as they say.
The same idea is presented here in another Henderson ad from that same time. [below]
By 1900 you could no longer simply state the name of the product and provide factual copy.
You needed to motivate the buyer by associating the product with the buyer’s dreams and hopes.