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Tips & Tricks

Your Grandparents Invented Sponsored Content

As in most things, your grandparents were way ahead of you, and so were marketers.

You might think you and your brand-content team are the newest thing under the sun but marketers from your grandparents’ youth were here way before you. Ever wonder where that term “soap opera” came from? It originated with the savvy laundry detergent brands that knew sponsoring the favorite programs of their customers would generate brand affinity and loyalty.

Clare, Lu and Em

Clare, Lu and Em,” (sponsored by Colgate Palmolive) featured the folksy doings of of three Midwestern housewives, debuting on Chicago’s WGN in 1930, with stints on NBC and CBS radio before its run ended in the 1940s.

The Lone Ranger

General Mills began promoting its cereals with “The Lone Ranger” in the early 30s.

Captain Midnight

An advertising agency expanded the genre by creating “Captain Midnight,” sponsored by Skelly Oil, then Ovaltine.

Little Orphan Annie

Ovaltine expanded its sponsored-content strategy using 15-minute “Little Orphan Annie” radio shows.

General Electric Theater

Ronald Reagan was doing sponsored content before you were born. Yep, the actor and future leader of the free world introduced TV shows for General Electric in the 1950s. Other brands mimicked GE’s sponsored-content strategy, spawning shows such as Kraft Television Theater, Texaco Star Theatre, Hallmark Hall of Fame and The Colgate Comedy Hour.

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