Amordad News
Once upon a time, Tehran (98)

History of commercials in Iran

All work for more sales!

Advertising is a bridge between seller and buyer. The commercial should be motivating and exciting and make the observer buy the advertised product. Using entertaining and simple sentences is always effective in selling goods. Those sentences should be said or presented in a way that stays in mind and draws the customer to buy the advertised product. Advertising has a history of more than one hundred years in Iran. The ads were initially very simple and only to identify the product. Later, imitations of global advertisements, spectacular and attention drawing designs started showing up in the media:  from newspapers and magazines to radio and television and urban wall graffiti. The way that advertisements in Iran became more compelling and enjoyable is a story that is good to know.

In 1267 AH, during the reign of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, a news item was published in the newspaper “Vaqaye Etefaqiyeh,” which should be considered the first standard advertisement in Iran. The commercial was published in the sixth issue of the newspaper Vaqaye Etefaqiyeh at the request of a businessman named “Rojiari,” and part of it read: “Monsieur Rojiari, a Western businessman, brought goods to the capital several times and sold them. He lives in Allah Verdi Agha’s house, near the British embassy, in the Abbasabad neighborhood. “According to the following description, he has brought the following goods: watch chains, gold bracelets, beds and chairs, porcelain, camphor candles, golabatoon, colored paper and… the elite (ladies), and all the people of different classes are invited to come and take a look.” Thus, for the first time, the newspaper’s readers became acquainted with the advertisement and sale of goods.

Such ads were published in the other issues of Vaqaye Etefaqiyeh, and for each ad that was less than four lines, one thousand dinars, and for ads that were more than four lines, each line around 5 shillings from the customer.  Publishing of ads in the newspaper continued until the middle of the twentieth century, and commercials and advertisements took on a distinctive color and style.

The first professional advertisements in Tehran newspapers

“Ettela’at” is the oldest newspaper in Iran, and the traces of the first professional advertisements of the country’s newspapers should be explored there. “Ettela’at” started being published in Tir 1305 (July 1926), and many commercials were published in its issues. In 1316, when the number of advertisers had increased, the first advertising center in Iran, called “Ziba Advertising Center” under the management of someone by the name of Hamzeh samimi Nemati, started to print professional and impressive work for their customers. This center also started cooperating with British and American advertising agencies and the work it presented was more or less in line with global standards.

In the 20s (40s AD) were the days of importing foreign goods to Iran. Therefore, many commercial centers were operating in Tehran during that period, especially from 1324 to 1330. The number of those centers have been recorded to have been 15. But most of their advertisement designs were taken from European and American advertisements institutions, and only the writings were translated into Persian and published in newspapers.

A fundamental change in advertisements and commercial advertisements occurred when Radio Iran was launched in 1335. Two years later, the first television transmitter in the country was established. The ads that were heard and seen from these two media were probably more effective than newspaper advertisements.

Before referring to the examples of advertisements of the past decades, another point worth mentioning is that until 1310, ads were called “elan-Nameh” (announcement), “Esgtegar-nameh” or “elan”.

In the 1940s and 1950s, readable ads were published in the newspapers or on radio and TV that are now so interesting and full of memories for the adults, and also interesting and readable for the present generation.  Advertisements of those decades, like today, all tried to produce ads that would attract curiosity and full of action. They did not refrain from using humor and funny sentences. For example, mad-in-Japan “National” TV published an ad in the Iranian papers in the 1960s showing several Japanese girls gathered around “National” TV set with this sentence printed on the top: “Japan’s beauties have come to Iran”.  This clever ad takes the viewers’ attention from the Japanese beauties to the promotional product.

Sometimes in ads humor is more effective than words. In those years, an advertisement was published about women’s cosmetics, which showed an old woman saying to a young man, “I will consent to your marring my daughter only if you buy her two things: first a house, and second Kari Diva cosmetics! Or, in an announcement about the sale of women’s shoes: a crowd of women were shown in front of a shoe shop, and two people were talking to each other, a little further away:  First one: “Have they gathered here to look up their entrance exams results?” Second one: “No, dear, Sorouge has auctioned its shoes”!

In those years, a bank called Omran was operating in Iran. The advertisement of the bank’s savings account was as follows: “Guys, it’s not good to be obstinate, but you know what?  From today, a lifetime prize of monthly 2,000 tomans and lifetime of power and comfort!”

Which men are favored more

The managers of Omran Bank liked the humorous advertisements more and considered more effective. And so, in one of their ads, they printed a photo . . . .  “Such a man is favored most who’s educated polite, fashionable, handsome, rich, friendly, and has an account in Omran Bank!

The ads for washing detergents of those years are also very interesting.  The ad about “Barf” (snow) detergents became very famous because it had all the characteristics of an effective ad. It was both short and simple and thought-provoking: “Snow white with Barf (snow) detergent.” Or the advertisement for the sale of Tide laundry detergent: Thanks to “Tide” our party went well.  Canada Dry soda also had a very interesting ad:  “It’s so delicious you cannot believe”.  The ad about Melli shoe said:  “Go and price; the Melli Shoe is even cheaper than the traditional sneaker”.

Some of the ads were very professional and impressive. Therefore they easily stayed in the viewer’s mind.  Like the ad for Supercola: “It’s here; supercola: full of funand excitement.” If we compare the ads of the 40s and 50s with those published in Vaqaye Etefaqiyeh, or with those of the 20s ND 30TH, WE WILL SEE THAT the Iranian advertisers came a long way until they learned to advertise professionally.  They tried to cut short the speech part and in a short and sweet way encourage people to buy the commodity in the ad.

If we want to go back to the past and find out about the lives of the people of those days, we can refer to the ads of those days; though of course the ads will never reflect all the layers of the people’s lives.

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