To assess changes in advertising the British children’s annual, Chatterbox, over the first three decades of the twentieth century.
The products/firms involved were identified and the advertisements classified into product groups. The advertising content was examined in terms of the intended audience and the five longest-running advertisements were analysed to gauge trends at the single-product level. Attention was also given to long-term changes at the product-group level, the effects of the Great War and the roles of the publisher, editor and advertisers.
In total, 457 advertisements were documented over 1900-1930 representing about 80 different products/firms. They were classified into 10 distinctive groupings with Food Ingredients, at almost 26 per cent of the total, being the most abundant. Overwhelmingly, the advertisements were directed at middle-class women/mothers (∼75 per cent of the total), then children (∼15 per cent) with men/fathers essentially being ignored. The five longest-running advertisements (over 25 per cent of the total) showed little evidence of change but there were significant trends at the product-group level, in marketing to children and in average advertisement size, particularly during the last two decades of the study period, partially reflecting gradual social and technological changes.
Comprehensive quantitative analysis of advertising in children’s magazine literature over several decades is problematic because of the difficulty in accessing sufficient source material. The present study is exhaustive and establishes a reference point for the assessment of advertising in similar publications in the post-Victorian era.
The author thanks the following for facilitating access to a number of Chatterbox Annuals: Lauren Buchanan (Monash University Library); Trevor Knight; and Kristen Thornton (Deakin University Library). Guidance re the sourcing of various Chatterbox Annuals was kindly given by: Cailin Howells (State Library of Western Australia); Liz Osman (Homerton College Library, University of Cambridge) and Todd Trenerry (Macquarie University Library). Frances, Kate and Ellen Teasdale documented the advertisements in a number of monthly issues of Chatterbox held by the British Library. Dawson Kidgell provided timely access to a range of reference literature and Ashlyn Frazer prepared two of the figures for publication.
Finally, the author especially thanks the reviewers and editor for crystallising the deficiencies in the original manuscript and generously outlining the path towards an acceptable publication.
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