Magazine Article


Pitching Jenny's Grandma

Much as Jenny-as-CMO is characterized by Marketing Central as a uniquely "Now" phenomenon, these ads (and many others we could reproduce) from the 1890s through the early 1900s prove that her grandma was very much on the job "Then."
Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

The ad was published in 1902. That was a long time ago, right? To be exact, 105 years ago. And photography was young then, and it was like yesterday that Daguerre invented photography. Or the camera. Or something.

Photography was younger in 1902, but hardly young. Daguerre introduced his process 63 years before that. When Daguerre came up with the daguerreotype, Jenny's grandma's grandma was just a baby.

And yet The Delineator, the magazine running the aforementioned ad, was quite certain its cultured female reader had enough of an education, a grasp of events and of the history of photography, that she recognized the names of inventors from her grandma's time.

The presumption of an educated, cultured reader was well-established by the year this ad ran. "What a change in the art of reproduction since his beginning!" it continues, alluding to visual reproduction, of course. "The lens has caught and held captive marvels of detail not discernible to the eye."

In other words, thanks to this Daguerre fella, Jenny's grandma in 1902 could have been a Chief Memory Officer.

"The Delineator gives much attention to this delightful recreation-study. The best work of amateurs is shown and compared, with many useful suggestions and directions for the enthusiastic button-presser. Photography is only one of the hundred fields of woman's interest covered by ‘the best of all magazines published for women.'"

The Button-Presser

A "button presser" seems like a 21st-century term for a snapshooter, but it had additional resonance in 1902. Barely 15 years had passed since the ascent of roll film, challenging the heavier and more cumbersome plates that had started with Daguerre. Kodak ushered in film with the slogan, "You press the button, we do the rest."

If there was a Kodak-centric tone to The Delineator's pitch, it could have been for two reasons. One is that Kodak's slogan became quite famous, even as the term "Kodak" did as a generic for snapshot camera. So in 1902, The Delineator was perfectly content to describe the CMO as "the humblest of amateur Kodakers."

Of course, the magazine's ad may have targeted two markets, the educated woman of 1902, and the bustling camera company up in Rochester. That was Big Yellow, but like Jenny's grandma, it was green.

Kodak ads of the early 20th century promoted their folding cameras as traveling companions, frequently in womens' hands. In one, the illustration possibly set in Holland shows two women who've stopped to snap the only man in the picture: a picturesque European in his sabots.

Kodak was not into leading social revolutions, then or now, unless they were good bets. Their marketing people must have believed that the portrayal of two women traveling the world alone together represented a perfectly normal practice.

That's funny-you'd get the impression from rhetoric today that women in 1900 were tied to their washboards.

Marketing Trends

Besides targeting travelers, Kodak advised women readers that "A Kodak Christmas is the Merriest Christmas," yielding "the children, the children's tree, the visit at the old home…the merry sleighing party, the home portraits of one's friends…[which] one cherishes more highly as the years go by."

We're taking the same pictures, and cherishing them as highly, today.

But besides the pursuit of Kodak moments, the company pitched home D&P to the feminine shopper. "The Simple, Kodak Way" headlined an ad showing a young woman in her spotless-white sailor suit smilingly preoccupied in full daylight, getting "the full measure of photographic enjoyment by finishing as well as taking Kodak pictures" with her Kodak Film Tank.