The appearance of a live fox running loose on Fifth avenue, to advertise a New York furrier, calls to mind the advertising methods of days gone by. Ten years ago such a sight would hardly have been a surprise; today its chief result is the summoning of the S. P. C. A. "Trick" advertising is rapidly becoming obsolete. The day of the sandwich man is gone; the dropping of samples from balloons, the band-wagon sign-board, the costumed buffoon wandering the streets--all are passing, with the cigar-store Indian and the druggist's colored jars. Even the blatant bill-boards and flashy electric signs that have marked the last decade seem to be taking on a greater restraint and simplicity.
The explanation for this striking change is found in the fact that advertising as a profession is a brand new thing. What was once novelty has now become the daily work of hundreds of hard-headed business men, keen students of buying and selling psychology. No wonder, then, that in place of startling patterns and catchy phrases in periodical advertisements--the most convenient place to observe the metamorphosis of the new profession--we find delicate illustrations of real artistic merit, explained by well-chosen words of a literary turn. The appeal today is based on something more than novelty; it rests on common sense.
Back of this reform is a motive of deep significance; a move toward truth in advertising. One can sell an article by loud-mouthed shouting after the fashion of a side-show barker, or by an honest effort to set the facts before the purchaser. The same movement is seen in the newspapers which strive first of all for an impartial presenting of events--facts alone--in the news columns. Some periodicals have carried this reform to the advertising pages; they investigate the truth of what they publish. And why not? The day has come when one looks askance at the garish appeals to one's pocket-book, when reliable advertising has become a tremendous factor in a manufacturer's success. The reform is in its first stages, for there is much of the old time trickery still in evidence; but the progress that has been made, and will be made, proves the new meaning of the old adage "it pays to advertise" it does pay--both those who sell and those who buy.