What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“The Coach-Making Business in all its Branches is carried on as usual.”
Adino Paddock, a coachmaker in Boston, regularly placed newspaper advertisements in the late 1760s and early 1770s. He often promoted secondhand coaches, chaises, and other sorts of carriages as an alternative to purchasing new ones, anticipating marketing strategies that became standard in the automobile industry two centuries later. He also provided maintenance and carried accessories and equipment, such as reins and whips, realizing that ancillary services and smaller sales supplemented the revenues he earned from carriages.
As part of his marketing efforts, Paddock inserted his advertisements in multiple newspapers published in Boston. While this increased his expenses, it also placed his notice before greater numbers of potential customers. During the week of June 11, 1770, for instance, Paddock placed the same advertisement in three of the five newspapers printed in Boston at the time. It appeared in the Boston Evening-Post, the Boston-Gazette, and the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy on the same day at the beginning of the week. It did not, however, appear in the issue of the Boston Chroniclepublished that same day or the subsequent issue distributed later in the week, but Paddock may not have considered running it there worth the investment. Relatively few advertisements ran in the Chronicle, perhaps due to the newspaper’s outspoken Tory sympathies. (Less than two weeks later that newspaper permanently ceased publication, though Paddock would not have known that the end was near for the Chronicle when he submitted his advertisements to the various printing offices in town.) Paddock also declined to place his notice in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter. Perhaps running notices in the other three newspapers exhausted his budget.
Whatever his reasons for choosing some newspapers over others, Paddock did submit identical copy to the Evening-Post, Gazette, and Post-Boy, multiplying the number of readers who would encounter his advertisements. For readers who perused more than one publication, his advertisement likely became more memorable due to its familiarity. Paddock was not alone in adopting this strategy. Artisans, merchants, and shopkeepers in cities with multiple newspapers often sought to increase their visibility by placing identical notices in more than one publication.