Content Marketing in the Pre-Internet Era

Content marketing is the new big thing in online marketing — from billboards to in-your-face pop-up advertising, content marketing is like a breath of fresh air that brings consumers to your business the natural way.

Yet while content marketing is a buzzword currently trendy among businesses from the East Coast to Utah, content marketing has been around longer than you’d think. Let’s take a look at some examples.

John Deere

Back in 1895, agricultural manufacturer John Deere launched its own consumer magazine, known as “The Furrow.” Originally published quarterly in Clarinda, Iowa, “The Furrow” is now available in 12 different languages and 40 different countries around the world, with a consumer reach of 1.5 million people.


A mere five years after John Deere’s “The Furrow,” in 1900 tire manufacturer Michelin came out with it’s “The Michelin Guides,” a series of comprehensive guides to automobile maintenance, travel and local restaurants and hotels. Originally distributed for free in France, “The Michelin Guides” expanded into annual releases that covered various different countries.


The next big foray into content marketing in the 20th century came from American gelatin company Jell-O in 1904. Facing low sales, the Jell-O company began door-to-door distribution of free copies of its Jell-O recipe book, featuring creative uses for the gelatin dessert. The recipe book was a smash hit throughout the Midwest and Utah, reaching $1 million in sales by 1906.

Procter & Gamble Co.

Without the Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) approach to content marketing in the 1930s, we wouldn’t have today’s classic soap operas such as “Days of Our Lives” and “The Young and the Restless.” The P & G company, purveyor of all things household goods, needed a new way to appeal to stay-at-home housewives in Utah and elsewhere. Through the creation of dramatic storylines full of mystery and intrigue, the classic soap opera was born.

Hasbro & Marvel

In 1982, comic book legend Marvel and toy company Hasbro teamed up to create the iconic G.I. Joe comic book. Through cross-channel promotion via both comic books and a television series, G.I. Joe became a household name — and sold an unprecedented amount of merchandise.

While content marketing has come a long way since the turn of the century, the core concepts remain the same. Tailor your branded content in a way that is both relevant for consumers and beneficial for your brand, and people from the East Coast to Utah will be clamoring for your products. For a strategy that has stood the test of time, content marketing is it.