Historical Ad Analysis: Teddy Bears

The teddy bear phenomenon began in 1902 when the President of the United States at the time, President Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill a bear on a hunting trip. While, President Roosevelt was on the trip, news got around very quickly of what he had done and before he knew it he was the inspiration for what would become one of the most successful toys of all time. However, because this was a time with no Internet or TV, the only advertisements were written in newspapers, catalogs, magazines etc.

The first known written advertisement for the bear didn’t come until 1906. It was an advertisement for E. I. Horsman and was published in Playthings Magazine. This ad was the first time that the toy was formally published with the simple title, “Teddy’s Bears.” The first thing noticed from the ad is how simple it is. With just a simple sketch of a teddy bear in the upper left corner and a large title, it likely stood out in the sea of writing in the magazine, which was likely the entire point of doing so. It came out before Christmas, in hopes of appealing to shoppers. The ad has one line in it that is purposefully bolded in order to make it appeal to both sexes, “Dolls, Toys and Games.” This is important in the marketing strategy of the ad because the word “Dolls” is more feminine and is aimed toward catching parents of girls, while the words “Toys and Games” makes it seem more fun and masculine making it appealing towards the parents of boys, thus making it a gender neutral item. Lastly, the ad contains a line that says that the teddy bear “Contains everything new and desirable for Holiday Trade.” This line makes the reader want to buy the bear by using the words “new and desirable” which are very appealing to most and make people want to buy things. The only thing that’s missing is a price for the bear.

Another written advertisement was published in Sears Roebuck Catalog in 1908 with the title, ““Teddy Bears” Are All the Rage. The Best Plaything Ever Invented.” This ad is very different from the original ad from 1906. This ad is much more wordy and intricate in that there are four bears on the top followed by a long paragraph presumably about the bears. The bears at the top are very eye catching. They are all different sizes and are all holding hands and representing, love, affection, and care, and resemble a family. The ad briefly mentions that it could be for adults as well as children, but it is mainly geared towards parents in hopes that they will buy them for their children. It mentions that it can be bought for both your little girl and little boy as well as that they are “practically unbreakable.” It ends the paragraph on the product details of the bear explaining that there is no other toy in the world that will give your kids “more actual pleasure and entertainment.” This is an effective way to end because it hopefully will leave the reader wanting to buy it because most parents want their children to be happy and entertained. Finally, in the bottom corner, there are a list of prices, provided in a neat and organized way, which makes it easy to order.

Lastly, an advertisement published ten years later, in the 1916 Sears Catalog, is far more detailed than both of the earlier ads. This ad has very intricate drawings of little girls playing with the teddy bears. Below each bear is a description of the type of bear above it. This ad repeatedly mentions how great of a deal these bears are because of their high quality at such a low price, which is their big sale pitch.

Overall, the three ads are similar in that they each have drawings of teddy bears and mention that both boys and girls can use and play with them. The ads also mention how durable and soft they are. Each of the ads is straightforward and easy to follow, in that nothing is confusing or complicated. There is an obvious increase technology from 1906 to 1916 because the ad goes from being plain and boring with very few words and details to multiple images and paragraphs. The details and information in the ads increased as the years went by, most likely because the audience, they are trying to attract is changing from people who don’t have one, to people who probably already have one, but might be interested in purchasing a newer and nicer one.

Works Cited

E. I. Horsman. “Teddy’s Bears” Advertisement. Sept. 1906. Playthings Magazine. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

Sears Roebuck Catalog. “Teddy Bears Are All the Rage. The Best Plaything Ever Invented.” Advertisement. 1908. Sears Roebuck Catalog. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

Sears Roebuck Catalog. “Teddy Bears are more popular than ever” Advertisement. 1916. Sears Roebuck Catalog. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

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