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History of Advertising in Nepal

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There are no records of any kind that tell us about the origin and history of Nepali advertisements. The earliest form of advertising may thus be taken as the trumpet blowing tradition of kings and maharajas to disperse royal messages. The advent of Mass Communication in Nepal can be said to have been through such official proclamations, which were usually accompanied by the use of musical instruments like drums or trumpets. The age-old oral tradition of promotion by vendors selling their wares in the market can also be taken as another early form of advertising.

Print

The roots of formal advertising can be traced back to a printed advertisement that appeared on the back cover of a book called Moksh Siddhi in 1919 B.S. The advertisement taken out by Manoranjan Press, Thahiti, promoted their various publications. The next instance of a Nepali advertisement on print is found in 1945 B.S. when Gorkha Bharat Jeevan brought out advertisements on the cover of Gorkha Hasya Manzari, published by the Gorkha Bharat Press, Banaras, India.

With time, improvements were made in media and communication services and Nepali advertising followed suit. It can be safely said that the milestones, and spurts of progress in the advertising sector have coincided with the developments in mass media. The start of Gorkhapatra in 1958 B.S. is not only a landmark in the field of Nepali media but can also be taken as the real start of Nepali advertising.

While Gorkhapatra Sansthan can be attributed as having initiated regular print advertising, another publication major, Kantipur Publications deserves credit for taking print advertisements to another level through full colour printing. The use of colour opened up new possibilities, and as a result, major progress was made by the advertising sector.

Advertising Agencies

With the national daily Gorkhapatra churning out advertisements on a regular basis, the advertising sector caught momentum, and the next major development came in the form of an advertising agency, Laxman Upadhaya’s Nepal Advertisers. The main objective of the agency was to publish flashy and attractive advertisements in the print media. Three years later, following in the footsteps of Upadhaya, Keshav Lamichane started Nepal Printing and Advertising Agency owned by Keshav Lamichane. This agency held the accounts of prime clients like Janakpur Cigarette Factory, Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation and Nepal Bank Limited.

Radio

Nepal got a taste of yet another medium of mass communication through the introduction of radio broadcasting in 2002 B.S. Instituted by Prime Minister Padma Sumshere and run by Kashi Raj Pande fro a powerhouse of Nepal Electricity Corporation in Tundikhel, the service was shortlived, and was discontinued due to protest from other Ranas.

Regular radio broadcasting commenced on Magh 17, 2007 B.S. with the start of Nepal Radio (now Radio Nepal). It initially did not offer advertising services, and due to the lack of reliable records, the presence of advertising content in the later years cannot be ascertained. The real impetus for radio advertising however came after private FM stations came in operation in 2047 B.S. A new trend began with stations like Hits FM creating advertisements in house, and effectively mixing their program content with advertising content.

Television

With the start of regular TV transmission by Nepal Television on Poush 14, 2042 B.S., a new era dawned in the context of Nepali Media. But unlike print and radio, the ushering in of TV did not bring about any dramatic changes or growth in the advertising sector, possibly due to various resource and technical constraints.

The start of private TV channels have added to the choice of content before the viewers, but the medium is as yet a little charted domain as far as advertising possibilities and opportunities are concerned.

The Future

The current age is one of convergence, and no medium is complete by itself, unless complimented by other media and technologies. The Nepali advertising sector, if it has to one of the future, has to look beyond petty interests, and move towards larger gains and ideals. Changes have to come in perception, work ethics, methods and technologies. The sector has moved ahead by leaps and bounds, but the situation is far from perfect. The sector is better organized then in the past, though there remains a lot to be desired. Professionalism is still lacking, and compromise, creatively and otherwise seems to be the rule of the day, due to the size of the market or the nature of the client and the general public.

The Nepali market is miniscule in comparison to other markets in the world, but it holds tremendous scope for improvement and growth. Nepali advertisements have broken free from the local realm, and stand tall amongst other international creative effort. Given the inherent constraints, Nepali advertisements are comparable, if not better, with international advertisements.

TV is a virtually unexplored territory and so is the Internet, and there still is scope improvement on print and radio. The path ahead is challenging, but Nepali advertising is looking ahea...