Colourful, versatile and, crucially, affordable â?? the chalkboard continues to dominate the advertising industry because itâ??s a sublimely simple concept. Chalkboards can present their audience with any sort of visual information, whether itâ??s illustrative or largely text based, and can be updated quickly and easily by anyone, anywhere at any time.
The chalkboard in Britain
Indeed, these clever little advertising slates are almost synonymous with the UKâ??s entertainment culture. Having been around since the very beginning of the nineteenth century, the chalkboard is still a common sight in pubs, restaurants and bars up and down the country, especially traditional-looking venues. It can be mounted on a table or hung on a wall, so can create a real impact in even the smallest and most cluttered of spaces, either as a menu board or as a means of keeping customers informed of the companyâ??s latest announcements and promotions.
Where did the idea come from?
So where did the everyday chalkboard actually originate from? Well, in the early 1800s, small squares of slate were first used as a more economically viable alternative to pieces of paper in American schools. Teachers soon cottoned onto the benefit of writing lessons onto a central source rather than having to attend to each childâ??s slate individually, and so the idea of the traditional â??blackboardâ?? was born. Over the next two hundred years, the chalkboard became an irreplaceable classroom staple, though it has since been rivalled by the rise of the cleaner (and arguably clearer) whiteboard in recent years.
Why is the humble chalkboard such a great advertising tool?
First and foremost, the information presented on a chalkboard is easily changeable. In fact, itâ??s the sheer versatility of the tool thatâ??s cemented its popularity. Whether theyâ??re instructing a lesson or advertising a special offer, anyone is able to sketch what they like onto the surface of a chalkboard by hand then update the slate with something new again and again. Chalk can be bought in a wide range of colours, which means that even the most inexperienced illustrator can now create bolder, brighter designs.
These days, chalkboards are much better suited to their purpose. Contemporary blackboards are crafted from man-made substances rather than slate, meaning that their surfaces are stronger and more resilient. The invention of waterproof chalkboard paint has made these items suitable for outdoor use, too, though many are not entirely weatherproof. The invention of dust-free chalk was also a major turning point, as many people found that the loose dust irritated their lungs. Those who used chalkboards regularly often reported breathing difficulties for this reason.
Though the concept has been improved significantly since the chalkboardâ??s humble beginnings, there are plenty of modern-day innovations that have arguably quashed the need for the product in its basic form, especially within the marketing sector. The digital display advertising market is growing substantially year on year, which means many tech-savvy business owners are deciding to ditch the slates and opt for a more eye-catching board instead. However, itâ??s clear that thereâ??s still a place for this much-loved marketing tool in contemporary society. With technology replacing so many of our traditional communication techniques, we think it would take something really special to replace the chalkboard!
Stuart Brown is fascinated by all the latest advancements in the digital display advertising industry.