The Evolution of Cell Phone Marketing

The object I chose to study on is the phone. The concept and the idea of being able to talk to someone without actually having to be physically present intrigued me and made me want to find out more about the devices today by analyzing and learning of how it originated.

The first advertisement is that of the Motorola DynaTAC 800x which was released in 1983. This is a television advertisement presenting the item to the public at $3995. The advertisement is in the form of a message to the viewers and the targeted audience mainly includes the businessmen, businesswomen and influential government authorities, who could actually afford the phone. The advertisement begins with a man in a suit driving a vintage Mercedes talking on the cell phone. Throughout the one-minute long promotional video scenes like these keep flashing while a man reads out the message added to it in monotone. The advertisement includes scenes where there are people walking up and down the stairs to a building or even at the dinner table proving that this phone is portable. Through the lines spoken during the advertisement the viewer is made aware that the phone is portable and that they were on the brink of a cellular revolution at the time. During the advertisement, in the later half, there is a scene where the narrator says that the phone weighs only 30 oz. and the tone depicts exclamation, which to us today will be a heavy phone. The ad shows that at that time only a certain percentage of the population could afford such an expensive phone. Even through the comparison drawn between checking time on a digital watch and using the mobile phone shows that in that age this was going to be the biggest technological breakthrough. The biggest assumption this advertisement has made is that this device had (in that time) become a necessity for businessmen and women and that sooner or later the rest of the population would also follow suit. The advertisement also shows that at the time there were only a few thousand phones in circulation while now there might be a few billion. This shows the evolution of the mobile phone from then to now.

The second advertisement is one, which was displayed on the billboards in 1985. This advertisement by Cellular One Car Phones reads: “Traffic Crawling? Start Callin’.” 1985 was still new to the concept of cellular phones and the devices with which you could talk without being stuck to one place therefore in order for people to buy such a product the company Cellular One Car Phones came up with this advertisement. This ad is directed at a much larger audience than the first advertisement, thus catering to a larger market. While analyzing the two articles we can also see the shift in emphasis of the target audience for companies. In 1983, the first advertisement dealt only with businessmen and women without targeting the public at large but the second advertisement targeted the public at large. So what changed in those couple of years? There are two possible and plausible explanations for this. One, that the manufacturers tinkered with the existing pieces and cut down on their production cost thus causing a subsequent and dramatic change in the selling price of the phone or two, that the people seeing other people use it felt that they would also be better off buying the car phone at the existing 1983 price. Thus upgrading the phone from an accessory to a necessity and causing a subsequent hike in demand.

The third advertisement is a magazine article, which was released in 1943 at the time of the Second World War. This advertisement is for the radiotelephone, which had created a rage during the war. This gadget had made communication during the war so much easier and the company, which had manufactured this device now wanted to introduce a prototype into the commercial market and see what effects it had. This advertisement creates an imaginative scenario in which they are making people hopeful for the unexplored aspects of communication, which might occur in the future. The tag line for this particular advertisements reads “Buses will have ‘phones!” and this was not the only article released by the company but there were two more in which they had presented two new scenarios with the help of ‘Planes’ and ‘Streamliners’. This advertisement shows that people in the 1940s did not have any medium of contacting anyone once they stepped out of their house.

All of the above articles show the various stages in the production and marketing of the cellular phone. The last article being the first to be released in Time magazine in 1943 presents an almost impossible picture of the future. However with the prototype of the radiotelephone already in use during the war it did not seem so unrealistic. The second article shows that even in 1983 the modern version of the cellular phone was miles away and they had launched the car phone. Even in the second advertisement the gadget does not advance in technology that much but just becomes more accessible by the public.

All three articles show that the mobile phone, which today has become such an integral part of our lives never, existed in the way it does today until a few decades ago. Sometimes I wonder if I would be a part of that nearly pre-historic telegraph and telegram era would I be hopeful for the future of communication or not?

Works Cited:

Mixed Goodies. “1980s mobile phone Tv Ad.” Online video clip.

YouTube. YouTube, 11 Sep. 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

” These Vintage Cell Phone Ads Will Make You Even More Grateful For The iPhone 5.”, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Cellular One Car Phones. “Traffic Crawling? Start callin’” [SLA2498]. Advertisement. 1985. Duke U. Rare Book and Manuscript Lib. Ad*Access. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Jefferson-Travis Radio Manufacturing Corporation. “Buses will have ‘phones!” [R0840]. Advertisement. 1943. Duke U. Rare Book and Manuscript Lib. Ad*Access. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.


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