Daily Archives: 24 January 2010

Was this man the Father of Advertising?

Charles Babbage is seen as the father of computers. Vinton G. Cerf is seen as the father of the internet. Norman Borlaug is seen as the father of the green revolution.

Who is the Father of Advertising?

Emperor Ashoka who lived 2,200 years ago, says Prof A.V. Narasimha Murthy, former professor of ancient history and archaeology at the University of Mysore.

Reason: the emperor who lorded over a vast kingdom practically consisting the whole of undivided India, parts of the north-west frontier province and Kandahar, Afghanistan between 272-232 BC, used inscriptions to get the message across to his subjects.

And the inscriptions, the professor says, were akin to modern-day advertisements.

Over 100 have been found on polished pillars which were set up on what would now be considered highways, which were used by elite travellers and tourists. The rural masses were targetted through inscriptions on boulders.

Tellingly, emperor Ashoka used the language that the target group would understand in different parts of his vast, far-flung empire: Northern Brahmi, Southern Brahmi, Aramaic, Greek, Kharosthi.

Typical examples of Ashoka’s “advertisements”:

“Dharma is not the prerogative of the rich; even a poor man can achieve dharma.”

“All men are my children; Just as in regard to my own children, I desire that they may be provided with all welfare and happiness in this world and in the next; the same I desire of all men.”

“King Priyadarshi wishes that all religious sects should live harmoniously in all parts of his dominions. They should perform their duty.”