Last summer I visited the ancient city of Ephesus in the Aegean Sea. There, I saw something that can be cataloged as one of the oldest marketing evidence in history.
While walking among the ruins of sacred temples and libraries, something caught my attention: it was the image of a badly carved foot on one of the stone slabs on the floor. This remnant slab was part of the roadway that once led to the effervescent downtown built entirely out of marble.
The carving work was neither artistic nor as beautiful as the masterful sculptures around.
I asked the tour guide, what the ugly carving meant. The explanation left me stunned. Apparently, just like today, it was illegal to announce, all lungs, the brothel business (there was a coliseum next door where the great scholars and apostles preached).
The foot carved on the floor advertised something that all men knew was there, but couldn’t be announced publicly.
In case new audiences did not capture the message clearly, the marketers also carved a heart close to the foot. The heart may be considered a persuasive element that created awareness.
Since the foot carved was the left one, it meant that you should keep walking left. Exactly as in your GPS.
I also noticed that unlike the rest of the chiseled drawings, the carving of the foot was quite worn and deep. The explanation is that, just like in Disney attractions, the brothel measured the customer’s size. A smaller foot or underage person was denied entry. Can you imagine teens stealthily posing their left foot on this measuring fixture?
The measuring was a filter, so the brothel only received in their landing page the targeted niche.
Ancient Marketing Techniques Are Still Valid
Comparing this ancient marketing resource with modern technologies, we can say that the stone slab (billboard) is the impression that selected a specific target, created awareness, and led to a landing place and conversion.
Such creativity in crafting the Ephesus ancient billboard also shows that marketing abilities are inherent in our nature. Thousands of years ago, or today, marketing is about finding creative resources to reach our niche, among obstacles and competitors, through awareness, to obtain revenue.
Now, when new technologies emerge by the day, the channels of communication are different but the same strategies remain effective.
The ancient “billboard” of Ephesus proves that, as soon as the world’s oldest profession began, the need for advertising was born, too.