Started On Papyrus, Now We’re Here

19th July 2022
Posted in Projects
19th July 2022 Lucas Ontivero

Started On Papyrus, Now We’re Here

Five Thousand years later, how has advertising really changed?

With every day that passes, it only gets easier to lose yourself in the sheer scope of contemporary advertising endeavours. From the classic TV and Radio duo, to BVOD, OOH Billboards, and now the Metaverse – we aren’t just busy juggling each client’s demands, but we’re also busy evolving to a constantly changing media landscape. The question remains however – how much has really changed since the first advertisement known to man/woman/person?Inked on a now crumbling piece of ancient papyrus, you’ll find the first recorded commercial ad, estimated to date back to 3000bc. The Egyptians were no strangers to the idea of religious and political propaganda, plastering these massages across anything that held still long enough. Here on this papyrus however, we read how a man name Hapù – a fabric vendor – ­offers a generous reward for anyone who returns his missing slave. Hapù then continues to promote his fabrics, even adding a humble slogan that reads along the lines of “The shop of the weaver Hapù, where the most beautiful canvases in all of Thebes are woven, according to everyone’s taste.”.

What we have evidence for here, is a fascinating and equally clear focus on reach and attention. In a time of colossal monuments and elaborate hieroglyphs, we see the conscious decision to produce this message on papyrus. Not only was this available to the larger population of the common class, but it was also quick to reproduce and easy to share. We may never know if the slave was missing, but with a handsome reward at hand, it’s no doubt that this storytelling served to garner large amounts of audience attention.

Ultimately, what’s important to note here is that the strategy remains stunningly simple; be where your audience is and say what your audience want to hear. Fundamentally this is no different to what we should still do today, no matter how bright the new media form glistens. In fact, it is only increasingly impressive and celebrated when an agency can keep media simple and clear – even in the metaverse.


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