Promoters of the The Oregon Trail were some of America's earliest ad men

By Mina Waston |

Picture this: a group of settlers of the American West are sitting around a round table in a New York City high-rise. In walks Don Draper, who dazzles them with a series of idealistic depictions of the region that are intended to encourage Eastern bankers and Midwestern farmers to travel down the Oregon Trail. Satisfied with yet another victory, Don retires to his office to enjoy a well-deserved scotch. 

Ok, so that's not exactly how it went. However, promoters of the West did employ advertising techniques long before the ad men of the 1960s.

W estward migration was greatly promoted in the print medium. More than 450 print advertisements showcased the benefits of the unknown territory that lie at the end of the Oregon Trail during this time.

These print ads—which appeared in theater pamphlets, magazines and city directories in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—introduced viewers to the West's various amenities. These included fashion, food, liquor, tobacco and household goods, to name a few.



Thankfully, these pioneers did not have access to television, as something similar to this video by  may have deterred them from making the cross-country journey.


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