Newspaper Advertising

Advertising is intimately involved in the significant growth of newspapers as a part of mass media. In 1883, Yukichi Fukuzawa, the founder of Jiji Shimpo, published a “Letter to the Merchants” in which he was among the earliest to discuss the benefits of newspaper advertising and, at the same time, to explain how necessary advertising was for newspaper operations. Soon after, newspaper advertising agencies began sprouting up in Fukuzawa’s neighborhood.
After the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, the number of news articles in newspapers increased, and the earlier distinction between elite and recreational newspapers began to blur as newspapers grew into a medium for the masses. Driven by a stable supply of consumer goods and economic growth, the volume of newspaper advertising grew, while large-size advertisements also took hold. Newspaper advertising also experimented in various ways with expression, finding that series and well-designed advertisements attracted people’s attention. In the Meiji period, newspaper advertisers were primarily in medicines, books, and cosmetics. From the Taisho period onward, however, advertising for things like food, beverages, and cars figured prominently in the pages of newspapers. As this shows, newspaper advertising is perhaps the form of advertising that best reflects the transformation of commerce and industry in modern Japan.

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