Wilbert Schreurs

PhD Researcher
VU University Amsterdam

Wilbert Schreurs (1960) is lecturer at the Department of Comparative Arts & Media Studies,   Faculty of Arts, VU University Amsterdam. Schreurs studied history at the Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht (1979-1986) and has specialized in the history of advertising. He has published several articles and books on this subject. Among them are: ‘U.S. Advertising Strategies in the Netherlands’ in: Four Centuries of Dutch-American Relations 1609-2009, H.Krabbendam, C. A. van Minnen en G. Scott-Smith (eds), Middelburg 2009,Leuker kunnen we ’t niet maken. De geschiedenis van tv- en radioreclame in Nederland, Hilversum 2005, Geschiedenis van de reclame in Nederland, Utrecht 2001. At the end of 2010 Schreurs was curator of the exposition ‘100 jaar ReclameKlassiekers’, which can be seen at the Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam until 29-02-11.

Research Interests: 

As part of TEF Schreurs is preparing a monograph: Tv-advertising in the UK and the Netherlands: the early years. The role of creativity in the shaping of a new rhetoric. This historical study will describe and compare the rise of television advertising in the UK and the Netherlands. It will research (the changes in) the content of tv-advertising in the early years in both countries and focus on the role professionals (creative people at the agencies, directors, advertisers) played in this process. The introduction of television commercials in both countries coincided with the beginning of the ‘creative revolution’ in advertising. One of the working hypotheses is that the interest that professionals had for creativity was not only based on aesthetic and artistic motives, but was also meant to overcome the resistance by society against (television) advertising.

Present research January 2012

In the past year I have done research in several      archives in the Netherlands and in the British Library  (Colindale) in London.  My research focuses on early  Dutch and English television advertising. One of the  main questions I hope to answer is how professionals  judged the content of tv-advertising. Therefore I am  studying volumes of trade magazines like Advertiser’s Weekly, Revue der Reclame and Ariadne. In these magazines lots of articles can be found in which practitioners shed their light on the development of early tv-advertising. One of the most interesting and promising aspects of my research is the way it might contribute to our insights in the (changing) views on the role of creativity in tv-advertising. It seems that creativity was not highly regarded in the early years of both Dutch and English television advertising.  Advertisers and advertising agencies seem to have been convinced that the public had a rather positive attitude towards tv-advertising, mainly because of its newness. In the course of years this attitude changed. The comparison of the subjects and perspectives of the articles in the trade magazines seems to support this view.

Besides that I have also collected many Dutch and English commercials from the early days. There are very few well documented general collections of commercials. At www.reclamearsenaal.nl early Dutch commercials can be found, and British commercials are collected (but very soberly described) atwww.tellyads.com.

Besides the preparations for my monographs on the early history of Dutch and English tv-advertising I am also preparing an article on the (changing) role of creativity in early tv-advertising in the Netherlands in which I hope to make clear – by rubricating articles in trade journals – what the actual changes in the views of practitioners were.


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