Jessica Jordan

From its early beginnings in print media to its current domination in the digital landscape, advertising has influenced how Americans think, behave, and make purchasing decisions. 


How Advertising Started

Advertising in America dates back to the early 18th century when newspapers began showcasing classified ads. However, it was not until the Industrial Revolution that advertising truly gained momentum. With the country experiencing rapid urbanization and the emergence of mass production, businesses sought effective ways to promote their products to a growing consumer base.

As the railways expanded and national magazines gained popularity, advertisers recognized the potential for reaching wider audiences. Advertising agencies, such as J. Walter Thompson, were established to create and distribute persuasive messages through various media channels. Major breakthroughs in technology, such as the invention of the radio and television, bolstered the advertising industry further, enabling brands to connect with consumers on an unprecedented scale.

how advertising started

The Rise of Consumerism

Advertising played a significant role in fueling the rise of consumerism in America. Through clever marketing strategies, brands created desires and aspirations within individuals, associating ownership of their products with social status and success. This shift in mindset, from need-based consumption to want-based consumption, transformed the American society into a consumer-driven economy.

The messages propagated by advertisers ingrained the idea that material possessions defined one’s identity and happiness. Advertisements presented products as solutions to problems individuals did not even realize they had. From innovative kitchen gadgets to luxury automobiles, advertising fostered a culture of constant desire for the new and improved.


Advertising Impact on American Lives

The influence of advertising on American lives has been far-reaching, permeating various aspects of society. Here are a few key areas where advertising has made a significant impact:


Economic Growth and Job Creation

Advertising has been instrumental in driving economic growth by creating demand for products and services. The industry itself has also contributed to job creation, employing countless individuals in creative, marketing, and analytical roles. Advertising agencies and related businesses have built thriving ecosystems, stimulating local economies and driving innovation.

Economic Growth and Job Creation

Shaping Cultural Norms

Advertisements serve as both a mirror and a driver of cultural norms and values. They reflect societal aspirations, presenting an idealized version of reality that resonates with consumers. Advertisements have played a role in shaping beauty standards, social behaviors, and even political views. By promoting certain lifestyles and ideals, advertising has influenced what is considered desirable and acceptable in American society.


Political Influence

Advertising has played a significant role in political campaigns and elections. Candidates rely on targeted messaging and persuasive techniques to sway public opinion and gain support. The advent of political advertising on television and, more recently, social media platforms has enabled politicians to reach voters directly, bypassing traditional news media. The impact of political advertising on American democracy is a subject of ongoing debate, with concerns about misinformation and the influence of money in politics.


Consumer Decision-Making

Advertisements are designed to influence consumer behavior, shaping purchasing decisions and brand preferences. Through carefully crafted messages, advertisers create emotional connections with consumers, establishing brand loyalty and trust. In some cases, advertisements can even nudge individuals towards adopting healthier habits or making socially responsible choices.


The Evolution of Advertising

The advent of the internet has revolutionized the advertising landscape, offering hyper-targeted advertising, personalized recommendations, and interactive experiences. Social media platforms, search engines, and streaming services have become major advertising channels, allowing brands to connect with consumers in real-time and on a more personal level.

influencer marketing

The rise of influencer marketing and user-generated content has further blurred the line between advertising and authentic recommendations. Consumers are increasingly drawn to relatable individuals who endorse products, seeking out genuine experiences rather than traditional sales pitches.

As the advertising landscape continues to evolve, especially on mobile devices, so too must the industry’s approach. Striking a balance between creativity, effectiveness, and ethical responsibility will be crucial in maintaining advertising’s role as a driving force in American culture.



Advertising has had a profound impact on American lives, shaping consumer culture, influencing societal norms, and driving economic growth. From its humble beginnings in print media to the digital age, advertising has adapted and evolved, leveraging technology and consumer insights to connect with audiences. 

The current challenges include consumer skepticism and ethics require advertisers to navigate carefully to ensure the continued relevance and positive influence of advertising in American society. This is where SW Marketing and Consulting excels; we leverage all available advertising platforms to make sure you connect with your target audience effectively.

Contact SW and Learn How We Can Help

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
(write 'none' if not applicable)
Please select 1 or multiple
Please write a brief message about your concerns or requests