Vintage content marketing is still innovative

Content marketing is often seen as a new trend. But in fact it has been around for years. As evidence of this we have recently written about how GE resurrected as a podcast its General Electric Theatre drama series from the Fifties.

This post seeks to discover the oldest and most distinguished piece of content marketing around. And the winner is a good one: the Michelin Guide.

Michelin first brought out the annual Red Guide in 1900. It printed 35,000 copies at a time when there were only 3,000 cars in France. It also gave them away free.

It turned out to be a great strategy. If an organisation were to do a similar thing today, many industry observers would probably laugh – especially bearing in mind the market for the book. Remember, too, that the original 1900 version contained maintenance advice among other car-related content.

Other venerable examples include this book of recipes for Jell-O and Sears’ 1922 World’s Largest Store radio programme for farmers during the financial crisis of the Twenties.


A quick glance through the history books reveals plenty of examples of early content marketing. It may be only a coincidence, but what’s interesting is that all largely pre-date the emergence of advertising agencies – who only began to make their presence felt in the Mad Men era of the Fifties and Sixties.

The difference now is that brands no longer have to do things themselves, because there are content-marketing agencies to handle the heavy lifting and produce quality work. In the Twenties, marketing was done by wannabe novelists. These days your content marketing can be written by experienced journalists…

There’s more…

Other content marketing-related news includes further opposition to adblockers – with advertisers complaining yet again about its immorality. Additionally, there seems to be a separate industry springing up providing anti-adblock applications. Here’s another.

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