The First TV Commercial Aired 75 Years Ago Today

Jake Rossen
Dave Birss via YouTube
Dave Birss via YouTube / Dave Birss via YouTube

With banners and pop-up ads congesting your web browsing, and product placement running rampant, it’s hard to imagine a time when advertisers seemed almost shy about interrupting your day. On July 1, 1941, watchmaker Bulova transmitted what is believed to be the first-ever television commercial. It’s simple, quiet, and runs just 10 seconds.

The spot, which is recreated above, came during an afternoon baseball game broadcast between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Brooklyn Dodgers on NBC affiliate WNBT in the New York market. It’s likely that only a handful of people saw it, since televisions were still something of a novelty: 1941 marked the first year commercial programming was available, with just 2000 sets in operation across the country.

While the watchmaker paid only about $4 for the spot, the price of actually viewing it was high. At a time when Americans earned an average of less than $1400 annually, TV sets could set them back several hundred dollars or more.

[h/t Ad Age]