Erie, Pa. – Gannon University and the Schuster Theatre will be featuring a three-month show titled “ExpErience the Best of Erie’s Past Ads” in the Erie Art Museum’s Gallery Night on Dec. 7 from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. This show, which began in early November, highlights historic Erie advertisements and promotional piece in the form of print, audio, visual and memorabilia.
“ExpErience the Best of Erie’s Past Ads” celebrates local businesses and non-profit organizations by displaying the creative and sometimes unusual ways they promoted their goods and services through advertising within the Erie community. These displays will feature old radio, television and newspaper advertisements, as well as billboards, signs and packaging, all of which date back to the 1800s. Erie organizations represented with original advertising examples include Koehler Beer, Erie Insurance, Erie Playhouse, Modern Industries, Mazza Wineries, Marine Bank, Waldameer, Eriez Magnetics, Hammermill and many, many more.
Conceptualized by Anne O’Neill, an instructor at Gannon University and director of the Advertising Communication and Public Relations academic programs, the show was developed to support the University’s effort to continually provide students opportunities with real-world experience in classes while providing Erie the opportunity to see long-gone examples of community advertising.
Visitors will see a framed photo of Ronald Reagan with the owner of Arthur F. Schultz (circa 1950). Many years before Reagan was president of the United States, he was the advertising spokesperson for General Electric and traveled the country promoting GE appliances. Long-time Erie residences may remember the Boston Store and think fondly of men’s shirts that sold for just $2.99 or heads of lettuce for 37 cents at Loblaw’s.
Show attendees may chuckle at the late-70s newspaper ad from a local bank touting an annual savings account interest rate of 7.25 percent, hum along with Denny Braendel singing the “Fussy-people pleaser” jingle in front of the Warner Theater and watch the infamous animated Koehler Beer TV ads.
Envision billboards from the 1960s, print ads in Erie Story (one of Erie’s business magazines), a city directory from 1897 with ads from small merchants of the time (as well as listing of every resident in the City of Erie along with their address and occupation!) and signage from Firch Bakery and Meadow Brook Dairy.
“ExpErience the Best of Erie’s Past Ads” was curated and produced by Every Last Detail, the student-run event planning agency in the COMM 327 Event Planning class. Agency members collected artwork from local businesses and non-profits, developed marketing strategies and brainstormed ideas to make the exhibit a reality.
“This course provides our students the opportunity to learn the theory behind the very detail-oriented event planning industry while also getting the hands-on experience of actually producing an event,” O’Neill said. “Our students get to do what they are learning in the classroom so that they have the knowledge and experience needed once they graduate.”