Flute in the history of advertising

Pink Rose and Flute, Lion Coffee, Woolson Spice Co, Toledo, Ohio

by Yulia Berry

Advertising is a global phenomenon that has influenced how people perceive the things around them for centuries.


Earliest: China, 11th-7th centuries BC.

Did you know that the earliest advertisement in history, recorded in the Classic of Poetry (11th-7th centuries BC), used bamboo flutes to sell candy? We flutists can be proud of this historical fact!

Tomb Figure Representing a Musician Playing a Bamboo Flute. Minneapolis Institute of Art

Later in the article we will review more examples of the unexpected use of the flute to promote all kinds of products.

Branded mud bricks: Mesopotamia, 4000 BC

Of course, we must mention Ancient Babylon, as our name “The Babel Flute” comes from the legend of the Tower of Babel! Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in present-day Iraq, was home to one of the earliest civilizations to invent branding and introduce copyright laws, Code of Hammurabi! When King Nebuchadnezzar transformed Babylon from a trading city into an imperial capital, he made sure people knew he was responsible for the change by building Babylon with his own brand of bricks. “I am the eldest son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon,” was written on each of them.

This kind of promotional “branding” is used in the manufacture of flutes with all the beautiful logos on the bodies and headjoints of the flutes.

These days, there are also many companies offering personalized products that will show off your name, such as accessories, office supplies, cups, souvenirs, gifts, bags, and so on. Anyone can feel like King Nebuchadnezzar!


First written advertisement: Egypt, 3000 BC

The first written announcement was found in the ruins of Thebes in Egypt. It was a papyrus created in 3000 BC. by a slave owner who was trying to find a runaway slave and was also promoting his weaving workshop.

Now we advertise, sell, announce events, post information about stolen flutes, promote activities through written advertisements in flyers, newspapers, magazines and social media.

A geisha plays the flute in an advertisement for Formosa Oolong Tea, circa 1910.

Sales through wall and rock art: Asia, Africa and South America, 4000 BC

Wall or rock art for commercial advertising is another manifestation of an ancient advertising form that is still present in many parts of Asia, Africa and South America. The tradition of wall painting dates back to Indian rock paintings dating back to 4000 BC.

Visual advertising is still very strong these days. Posters, photographs, web banners, paintings, murals are very effective in creating visual memory and building brand awareness.

Ancient Greece and Rome: sponsored games

Political campaigns and commercial messages were shown on the ruins of Pompeii.
Advertising lost and found papyri was quite famous in Ancient Rome.

Game sponsorship is not a modern invention. We must look to the bloody gladiator fights of the Romans for the early use of the sport as advertising and propaganda. Like modern athletes and celebrities, Roman gladiators and Greek Olympians were tasked with promoting certain products both in and out of the ring. The games began to be used for political purposes. Painted advertisements on the walls told who was paying for the games.

The ancient Greeks believed that music improves coordination and movement, whether it was dancing, military exercises, or even physical labor. So, in addition to personal trainers, professional musicians also played an important role in sports games. The man on this pelika plays the aulos (double flute). He accompanies two boxers who step in sync and shadowbox:

Terracotta pelike (wine jar), ca. 510 B.C. Greek, Attic. Attributed to the Acheloös painter. Terracotta. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Today famous flute artists, bloggers and Youtubers have a strong influence in promoting a flute brand or product and convincing a potential market of its benefits. In the era of social media, this type of advertising has become extremely effective and beneficial for both parties.

First print advertisement

The first printed advertisement was published in 1472 when William Caxton printed an advertisement for a book. Since then, the history of advertising has been quite exciting, and it has gone through many radical changes and quantum leaps.

Some great examples of vintage print ads can be found on old music. For example, Zimmerman published Koehler’s works and on the back side would give a catalog of new flute music available for order.

First newspaper advertisement: USA, 1704

The first newspaper advertisement was used in the US in 1704.

First bilboard: USA, 1835

Later, in 1835, advertising took a new turn: the very first billboard in the United States featured carnival/circus posters over 50 square meters. ft.

The advent of advertising agencies: London, 1786

William Taylor opened the first advertising agency in history in London, but Volney B. Palmer took his idea to the United States in 1840, working with “best newspapers of all the cities and provincial towns in the United States and Canada, for which he is daily receiving advertisements and subscriptions.”

Mail for ordering advertising: USA, 1892

The next major development in advertising history came with Sears, the very first company to focus more on personalization through mail-order advertising. In 1892 they came up with their extensive snail mail advertising campaign with 8,000 postcards, and it generated 2,000 new inquiries.

Online shopping, online promotions and catalogs, online holiday sales with subsequent home delivery are now part of the business and our lives, and buyers can no longer imagine how to do without it. Amazon, online shopping, express mail have changed our lives forever! Expensive flutes can be sent to you for a trial period. Anyone can sell or buy flutes on Ebay or social networks like Facebook Marketplace and mail the instrument to you.

Using radio and television to stimulate sales: first radio ad,1922

Radio and television advertising has taken personalization to the next level: advertising campaigns have been designed to provide the audience with a personalized experience.


There are many great examples of the use of the flute in visual advertising. But I would like to offer some examples of unexpected uses for the flute to promote products that are not always related to flute. Some of these advertisements I have in my personal collection.


Herbert Paus (1880-1946) was most effective in depicting subjects that were somehow larger than life. The work he created during World War I was essentially the forerunner of his stunning advertisements and poster-like magazine covers. The strong visual impact of his more graphic design was balanced by his ability to use fine detail in the decorative headings of magazine stories and youth fiction.


It’s Christmas time and buskers are gleefully playing Christmas carols for a ragged little boy; they know that when they finish they will be invited to drink hot cocoa. Inside, the party is going great, while outside, three men are chatting with a pretty young girl. Published in the December 1913 issue of GOOD HOUSEKEEPING. Artist: Mariangela Buch.

Interestingly, I live near Dorchester, Massachusetts, where this company was founded in 1780. Baker moved out to Dover, Delawer in 1966 and is now owned by Kraft Heinz.


Frank Angelo d’Andrea, born 1888 in Salerno, Italy was the creator of FADA Radios.

Many collectors report that this model has exceptional reception and performance when restored. Imagine if Mozart really heard The Magic Flute on it? No doubt he would approve!

1942 Sanka Coffee: Flautist Boarding House

Sanka is a decaffeinated instant coffee brand sold worldwide and was one of the first decaffeinated coffees. Sanka is distributed in the United States by Kraft Heinz. I find this one so entertaining and funny that I included it in my personal collection!

1944 SCOTT’S FINE RADIO RECEIVERS: Finicky Ears of a Flautist

Yes, we flute players have “finicky” ears! We deserve the best technology to record our favorite instrument!

Scott Laboratories of Chicago, Illinois was the successor to the legendary E.H. Scott, which made many luxury radios in the pre-war period. The motto of the founder E.H. Scott, “All beautiful things are always made by hand,” and although he left the company in 1945, his commitment to quality continued into the post-war era. It’s great that they used the sound of the flute and the flute as an example in the advertisement.


This vintage advertisement emphasizes that if there is artistic talent in the family, then good taste in clothes is also passed on from generation to generation. It’s nice to see that the talent is related to playing the recorders in this case!


The promotional words read “All I want is Maidenform and music, music, music!” The company is still in business and makes beautiful bras, but this ad makes me smile, because the beautiful girls obviously have no idea what to do with musical instruments. And the statement “I dreamed I played in an all-girl orchestra in my maidenform bra” is taken very literally – the girls have long skirts, but no shirts – only bras, obviously to the delight of some men. The company has released many similar ads with beautiful girls showing up at work, sports games, doctor’s offices, stores with no clothes on top except for bras. Imagine that!


“Who put the class in our penlander classics: Acrilan, that’s who!” and “Penney brands make the grade… every time!” make a statement about classic style and quality. School-aged girls seem to enjoy making music together though the pose of a girl holding a flute looks very awkward.


Sperry Corporation was an electronics company and the UNIVAC division produced the first commercial digital computer. The Sperry UNIVAC division has its roots in the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC), founded in 1946 by J. Presper Eckert (1919–1995) and John W. Mauchly (1907–1980), developers of the ENIAC, the first electronic digital computer. The firm began development of the UNIVAC, the first digital stored-memory computer for commercial use. CBS used UNIVAC to predict the outcome of the 1952 presidential election. This remarkable public relations move helped UNIVAC capture the nation’s imagination. In the early 1950s, 46 UNIVAC I models were sold. However, in 1954 IBM introduced its 650 computer, which was a major commercial and technological success. As a result, Remington Rand saw its lead disappear almost overnight.

The heading of this advertising reads: “The idea behind the most advanced computer research goes somethimglike this. The simple thing that makes a flute play is what makes experimental computers work” How cool that they used the flute to promote their innovative ideas and experiments! But what a pity that it did not help them to survive.


Introduced by The Royal Crown Company, Diet Rite was the first nationally developed diet drink by the soft drink industry. Testing of a product intended for diabetics and people who cannot consume large amounts of sugar began in 1958. The reaction was overwhelming! I have to admit that I am not familiar with “America’s No.1 low calorie cola” and have never tried it though it still exists.

Paul Horn (March 17, 1930 – June 29, 2014) was an American flautist, saxophonist, composer, and record producer. He pioneered world and new age music with his 1969 album Inside and received five Grammy nominations, including three in 1965. In 1967, the year of this ad, he released Paul Horn In India (1967, World Pacific), composed and adapted by Paul Horn, Ravi Shankar and Allaudin Kahn and Paul Horn In Kashmir (1967, World Pacific). It’s nice to see such a legendary flutist in an advertisement. The words “The one with the wonderful taste” fit perfectly into this advertising message.


The words “Alive with pleasure!” sound pretty scary next to “Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health”. The phrase “After all, if smoking isn’t a pleasure, why bother? ” doesn’t sound too convincing for any flute player who uses his lungs to play the flute.


This is a very beautiful print advertisement, although no flutist can imagine playing the flute in such a position. For this reason I included it in the list. This could be a great advertisement for hair products, because a gorgeous girl has very beautiful hair. The words on the poster sound very poetic: “The breath of life. Caressing fingers and music lives”.


The Datsun 210 name is used to describe several different Nissan vehicles from 1959 to 1982. It’s nice to see this idyllic scene of a flutist playing next to his new Nissan while having a picnic with a beautiful girl. However, the family on the back looks like they’re “photobombing” the perfect date.


The ad reads: “When the light you have to work with is unpredictable, Kodak has a film that isn’t.” While Kodak makes a point about the quality of its product, the image raises many questions. The girl awkwardly holds the flute and for some reason sits in a dark room. She doesn’t have many clothes on, but she is adorned with flirty accessories and has a bright makeup on. What is happening there?


The ad reads: “Who are they? Free-thinking fashion girls declaring their independence from everything except the wittiest clothes, the lovliest shoes. Miss America Shoes.” Stylish girls play musical instruments holding the American flag. I personally like this ad because it creates an image of a really nice looking musician and patriot.


I’m not sure how the flute is connected to the juice, but it looks like the juice is bursting out the tone holes. The girl clearly enjoys “playing” the flute this way, as I think any kid would do!


This article would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about new growing opportunities and how to promote flutes and related products and accessories in the future.

There is a simple answer: everyone knows that all roads lead to… did you think to Rome? No! In fact, nowadays all roads lead to The Babel Flute!

Companies, institutions, organizations, associations, and individuals can reach a very large target audience – flute professionals, teachers, performers, students, musicians and flute lovers.

The Babel Flute has no borders with its powerful and exceptionally high-quality translation function in any language and incredible amount of web traffic. Over 2.7 MILLION visits from 238 countries in just 2.5 years and now over 200,000 Google search results every month (updated statistics), according to Google Analytics! It keeps growing and we are very proud of these results! Don’t miss this opportunity!

There are a few effective ways to promote your products and activities on The Babel Flute:

  • Business Directory “Deals & Offers” – one convenient stop for flutists to find any flute related product or service.
  • Banners on the website or in the Babel Flute Forum
  • Text links
  • Classifieds
  • Newsletter
  • Social media posts and shoot outs
  • Tailored advertising

Also, by advertising on The Babel Flute you will be making a huge contribution towards a higher goal for the benefit of the world flute community. Wecan support each other!

Read more about Advertising on The Babel Flute and email the team at thebabelflute@gmail.com

Yulia Berry


Yulia Berry is founder of Web Flute Academy, The Babel Flute, The Babel Flute Courses and New England Flute Institute, creator and developer of the popular “All about Flute” Mobile app and the First Global Game for Flutists, highly experienced flutist and mentor teaching at all levels, with a Doctor of Music Arts degree focused in Flute Performance, Pedagogy and Music Education from the Saint Petersburg State Conservatory named after N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov (Russia).

She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in prestigious venues around the world, and has been praised for her virtuosity, musicality, and expressive playing.

Yulia Berry is known for her expertise in flute pedagogy, innovative and effective teaching methods, which emphasize technique, musicality, and artistry, and her dedication to helping students achieve their full potential as flutists.

She wrote many articles on the connection of the flute with art and the role of the flute in the arts and cultures of different eras and cultures.