HISTORY OF ADVERTISING IN HAMPTON ROADS
By Tom Bie and Warren Miller

Until as late as 1945, advertising in Hampton Roads was largely limited to newspaper, with some local radio and a few outdoor boards owned by Consolvo & Cheshire.

The area had six daily newspapers: The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, The Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, The Portsmouth Star, The Newport News Daily Press, The Newport News Times-Herald and the Suffolk News Herald. Two weeklies: The Virginia Beach Sun and the black-oriented Journal and Guide rounded out the print media.

The rotary letterpress process produced newspapers.Custom illustrations were rare because of the high cost of photoengraving (creating a raised image on zinc through a process of etching with acid). Hofheimer's shoe stores, Willis Furniture and one or two department stores were about the only firms with ad budgets large enough to justify art staffs.  Other advertisers had to be content with "mat services" or manufacturers' mats.

The matrixes, or "mats"were heat-resistant fiberboard into which an engraving had been pressed, thus creating a mold for hot metal. Newspapers subscribed to monthly catalogs illustrating timely merchandise and stock seasonal headings – each with its own mat. Newspaper color printing arrived in the 1950s, but the switch to offset printing didn't come until the late '70s. Those innovations paved the way to greater creativity and advertising agencies.

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