The History of Direct Mail--A Satirical Perspective (Part II)
After William Caxton started littering the Streets of London with his various and sundry handbills in the 1480's, direct marketing took off. While the good folk of the 15th
Century didn't have to contend with Adult websites and genital enhancement email spam, they did have to contend with Real Estate "opportunities" distributed through this budding new media.
William Penn--Direct Land Sales Pioneer
The first American direct advertisement, according to the Philadelphia Public Ledger, was a pamphlet published in 1681 by William Penn. It should be noted that Printing had not yet made its way across the pond, so Penn's, land scheme was imported from England, where it was printed to stimulate emigration to Pennsylvania.
Good direct advertiser that he was, Penn followed up his first piece with seven other pieces (maybe he should have invented postcards for direct marketing) between 1681 and 1690. He also took a small portion of the first pamphlet and published it as a "broadside" whatever that was...?
Following his arrival in Pennsylvania, Penn published a second pamphlet entitled: "Letter from William Penn, Proprietary and Governor of Pennsylvania in America, to the Committee of the Free Society of Traders, of that Province, residing in London." Ok, so he violated every rule of direct marketing (oops, they hadn't been invented yet) with his incredibly long title. What is noteworthy is that this pamphlet was the first to use a map to help sell. Picture is worth a 1,000 words, right?.
Unfair rumors having been spread abroad in England about Penn's Woods, in 1687 Penn published another-pamphlet, the purpose of which was to offset these rumors. Here is the first instance of using a buyer testimonial to endorse a product-in this case-a land sale.
So not only did William Penn become the first successful direct marketer in The US, but he was the first to be reported to the BBB.
In our next installment we meet Ben Franklin.