History of Healthcare Advertising, Part 1

Advertising hospitals and healthcare services directly to the consumer is relatively new in the history of marketing. In 1977 the American Hospitals Association held its first marketing convention. Up until this point, marketing healthcare by any respected entity was not recorded. In my next few blog posts I’d like to take a look at the history of healthcare advertising prior to the 1970‘s; who was doing it, what was promoted and how they sold it.

Cure-all patent medicines


Advertisement for Daffy’s Elixir Salutis

One of the earliest documentations is for Anthony Daffy’s Elixir Salutis, “The Choise Drink of Health.” Today, one might categorize this product as a pharmaceutical, over the counter medication or herbal remedy, but back then these were known as Patent Medicines.

Daffy’s Elixir is reported to have originally been invented in 1647 by the rector Thomas Daffy in Leicester, England. According to records it doesn’t appear to be cheap stuff and it looks like those who could afford it, would stock up. Purported to cure anything that ails you, the ingredients in Daffy’s Elixer create nothing more than a laxative with a little brandy added in for good measure.

After Daffy’s death, the recipe was passed on to members of the family including Anthony Daffy, an apothecary who advertised the product all over London in the late 1600’s and in America at the beginning of the 18th century. Through hand-distributed pamphlets and notices in the newspaper, Daffy’s Elixir became a household name. It remained popular and continued to be marketed well into the 19th century.