by Joelle Hagen
Marketing and advertising is incredibly integrated into our culture and it’s hard to think of a world without it. But as everything has to start somewhere, marketing came from a multicultural clash which shifted the world.
To start, I would like to discuss the concept of social networking. Networks are how ideas spread, evolving the world. In order to have an effective network, there has to be a common symbol that everyone recognizes, and a way to connect. There are two big networks that have connected large groups of people: streets and the Internet. Prior to the Roman Empire, the only way to exchange goods was to travel to other sea ports. But everything changed when the Romans built streets, allowing people to go to more cities, reach more cultures and trade more goods. Through this connection of many different cultures specific symbols started to develop to communicate across language barriers. Most of these symbols were religious- the Christian Cross, for example. With the recognizable symbol and the streets for connection, a strong network developed.
This is the first social network.
The most popular roads were those of pilgrimage. Vie Francigene, for instance, was a pilgrimage from France down to Rome, Italy. It was first mentioned in the late 9th century. On this road there were travelers from all different European cultures, creating dynamic and exciting meeting points in cities along the route. In these cities people would exchange goods from their homes and travels, and it was there that marketing was born.
Residents of these towns viewed these trade centers as an opportunity to sell their own products and asked the question “what do these travelers want?” Most merchants made religious or functional objects. This birthed the concept of target markets, or having a type of person one wants to sell to and then creating a specific product for that type.
From there, the idea of marketing has grown into what we see today. Everything is designed around us to promote us to buy, buy, buy. It grew steadily since the 10th century and was pushed even farther by the invention of the Internet. The easier it is to communicate with people across the world, the bigger marketing will get.