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A short History of TV Commericals

A short History of TV Commericals

A Short History of TV Commercials

Whether you love them or hate them, the TV commercial is as much a part of the entertainment industry as anything else, from seeing our favorite actors on the small screen to singing along to our favorite soundtracks. Though modern streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more have made it easier to sidestep the occasional commercial, it’s still something we can’t forget — nor something that’ll ever go away.

So, to help show our appreciation towards these short ads, let’s take a brief look at the TV commercial’s history and the role it plays in overall TV production. Who knows, maybe you’ll partner with to make one of your own!

A Fast-paced Beginning

The first TV commercial premiered in New York City in 1941 and belonged to the Bulova Watch Company. Boasting a running time of about 10 seconds, it’s estimated the ad cost no more than $9 to produce and was viewed around 4,000 times.

Following this, the 1950’s saw companies reaching TV viewers through sponsorships, in which programs introduced brands like Colgate and Coca-Cola. 1952 also featured the first TV commercial ever for a toy, featuring Mr. Potato Head! Furthermore, local governments caught wind of television’s influence and began to use advertisements (or “public service announcements”) to convey important social messages.

Modern Expansion

Flash-forward to the 1980’s, and you have a gold mine of commercials. During this time, advertisements were exploding across the globe, especially with the introduction of a televised Super Bowl. Suddenly, companies nationwide were making a name for themselves through nothing but TV commercials, including names like Apple, Nike, Dove, and more.

This trend carried on into the 21st century, shaping the TV production and TV commercial techniques we know and love today. Of course, things changed when Hulu introduced a way to get around advertisements in 2007, forcing commercials to evolve.

Are TV Commercials Still Important?

Though more people than ever are giving up live TV in exchange for streaming services, TV production companies like remain optimistic about advertising’s future.

Some compelling benefits that place TV commercials ahead of any other marketing strategy include:

• A Larger Audience Reach: Television remains one of the most common leisure activities, not only across the nation but also worldwide. As such, business can expect to receive a hefty return on investment knowing their advertisement is reaching thousands — if not millions — of eyes.
• A Targeted Approach: Unlike other marketing methods, TV commercials enable advertisers to target a specific audience more accurately than ever. For instance, toy manufacturers will know to purchase an ad spot on a children’s program, whereas an alcoholic beverage company might do the same with an adult sitcom.
• A Captive Audience: If you place an ad in a newspaper or magazine, you’ll be competing with dozens of other images and articles. In contrast, a TV commercial ensures your audience is both captive and solely focused on your message.


TV commercials have been an important aspect of TV production ever since their introduction, and it’s clear they’re not going away anytime soon.