From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
A testimonial is a letter, sometimes from a public figure, sometimes from a private citizen, extolling the virtue of some product, which is used in the advertising of the product.
patent medicine advertising. The pages of almanacs and other promotional literature were filled with pages of testimonials, some with accompanying photographs, that tell of the healing powers of the products in question. Dr. R. V. Pierce, marketer of Pierce's Golden Medical Discovery, published The People's Common Sense Medical Adviser in 1875; it was still being offered to the public forty years later. In addition to a fair explanation of medical knowledge at the time it appeared, this book contained literally hundreds of testimonials extolling Pierce's nostrums, or talking up the virtues of Pierce's Buffalo, New York clinic. Stern photographs of women who owe the cure of their "female weakness" to Pierce's medicines accompany many of the letters. A Denver, Colorado man's testimonial affirms that they put an end to his "self-abuse:"
- Case 461,306. Onanism. Melancholia; contemplated suicide.
- Gentlemen — Having waited several weeks after finishing the last medicine, to see if there would be any relapse, I now send you a report of treatment. I believe I am thoroughly cured, not only of poor health, but of all desire to abuse myself. I have regained health, spirits, and confidence. Am married, something I have long desired, but never before dared to attempt. Please accept my sincere thanks, gentlemen. Your medicine has saved me from a suicide's grave.
- --- H., Denver, Col.
- --- H., Denver, Col.
This coup, unfortunately, was scored at the end of the era. Later advertisers found that no one bothered to read the testimonials anymore; the sheer bulk of their numbers made them no more convincing or appealing. A warier public wondered whether these anecdotes really proved anything, and their genuineness was often doubted. Celebrity endorsements remain with us. Occasionally the makers of a consumer product do in fact use a consumer's letter in its praise in an advertising campaign. But for the most part, the bulk presentation of testimonials is an advertising technique that has fallen by the wayside.