Black Sheep of Advertising: P.T. Barnum

Ad for P.T. Barnum circus, 1879 (click to enlarge).

From “Twenty Ads That Shook The World” by James B Twitchell:

“Today, we use the term hype. In the nineteenth century it was called humbug. Humbug was part of a new lexicon that included words like hoopla, ballyhoo, bunkum, flimflam, claptrap, and codswallop. These were the new words to describe a new form of uniquely American entertainment: the media-made confected event, high on promise, low on delivery, and probably costing something. As the actress Tallulah Bankhead once remarked after a rather disappointing but much-hyped evening at the theater, “There is less in this than meets the eye.” This was exactly the kind of media-made event that P.T. Barnum first mastered.”