The First Advertising Films

K: Alexandre Promio. P: Auguste & Louis Lumière. Fr 1896

Admiral Cigarette
R: William Heise. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1897

“In May 1896, in the yard of the Geneva home of Lavanchy-Clarke (a Swiss businessman who functioned as a European distributor and promoter for the U.K. soap manufacturer Lever Brothers), the cinematographe operator Alexandre Promio (Lumiere Brothers) shot a film of two women hand-washing tubs of laundry. Placed prominently in front of the tubs were two cases of Lever Brothers soap, one with the French branding ‘Sunlight Savon’, the other with the German ‘Sunlight Seife’. The following month, the film (Laveuses), given the English title “Washing Day in Switzerland (Promio, 1896)”, was shown in New York at Keith’s Union Square Theatre (1896). The official release date is 26 September 1896.

Admiral Cigarette was the first advertising film lodged for copyright at the Library of Congress. The film was released at 5 August 1897 by Edison Manufacturing Company, the director was William Heise, an American film cinematographer and director, active in the 1890s and credited for more than 175 short silent films. Heise is best known for ‘directing’ The Kiss, a 1896 short film that depicted a kiss between May Irwin and John Rice. Direction, at this early stage in cinema, consisted mainly of pointing a stationary camera in one direction and capturing whatever action transpired within the frame. Along with W. K. L. Dickson, Heise was one of the most prolific filmmakers of the nascent days of cinema. He worked with Dickson on many of the early shorts, capturing numerous scenes of everyday life as well as different aspects of performance and sport. He served as cinematographer on 1894’s Bucking Broncho and many others.”

>>> Showbiz 1895: Edison’s Kinetoscope (The Kiss) on this site

>>> Early Advertising Films on this site