The first official, paid television advertisement was broadcast in the United States on July 1, 1941, over New York station WNBT (subsequently WNBC) before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The grainy and shaky 10-second ad featured a single image of a Bulova watch face atop a map of the United States. The accompanying voiceover from pioneering announcer Ray Forrest simply stated, “America runs on Bulova time.”

The commercial cost Bulova about $4 and at best was seen by just a few thousand people who owned a TV set in the New York market where it aired.

The rest of the world wasn't as quick to embrace television ads as the United States.

The first TV ad broadcast in Asia appeared for 30 seconds on Nippon Television in Tokyo on August 28, 1953, advertising Seikosha (subsequently Seiko); it also displayed a clock with the current time.

The first TV ad broadcast in the UK aired for 60 seconds on ITV on September 22, 1955, advertising Gibbs SR toothpaste.

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