A Three-Part Comprehensive History of Marketing in Bozeman

INTRODUCTION: The history of marketing communications in Bozeman is as long as it is rich. What many Bozemanites might not know is that Bozeman was and continues to be the original hub of marketing worldwide. From its early days with marketing godfather Hvaler S. Thundergarden to its phoenix-like rebirth after the global marketing dark age, Bozeman has always been a pioneer in the marketing world.

In Bozeman, as well as globally, the entire history of marketing can be examined through three very distinct eras:

The Foundation

The Dark Ages

The Renaissance

Let’s take a look:


1163 – Bozeman founded, did not have marketing: Originally founded in 1163 when Dale Rinker, an English-born nomad who somehow found himself in the pre-colonial West, pitched a tent in what he called “the hole between a bunch of tall and taller mountains.” As Rinker was the only resident at the time, he saw no need for marketing.

1164 – Bozeman unfounded: After fourteen months of living out of his tent in what is now Bozeman, Rinker packed up his tent and was never seen again.

1165-1864 – Nothing existed: For nearly 700 years, Bozeman was a wasteland of majestic mountains, beautiful wildlife, extraordinary fauna, and natural wonder.



Hvaler S. Thundergarden, the founder of marketing, was born in the Bozeman area in 1851.


1864 – Bozeman founded again, still did not have marketing: Western pioneer, John Bozeman, founded the town, and for some reason hadn’t a single primitive thought of what marketing is, could be, or would be.

1866 – Nelson Story drives a whole bunch of cattle into Bozeman: While this isn’t related to marketing, it’s still pretty cool and worth a mention. It’s not a total loss, though, because the land he settled on would eventually be donated to help start Bozeman’s finest university.

1874 – Hvaler S. Thundergarden invents marketing: A revolutionary Bozeman native, Hvaler S. Thundergarden invents marketing in 1874. Prior to this time, businesses did not have customers, and civilians did not consume. Unaware that they would not make money if no one had heard of their businesses, and completely oblivious to the fact that they could not survive if they didn’t know places exist that sell basic needs, Thundergarden got the idea to marry the two, and in 1874, he created the very first advertisement, a sign that read: “THERE ARE PLACES TO PURCHASE GOODS AND SERVICES.”

Fun fact: The term “marketing” was coined by locals after Thundergarden referred to his sign as taking up a slab of wood and “Marking it up,” which in turn became, “mark-it-ing,” and eventually “marketing.”

1875-1882 – Thundergarden finds marketing success: After businesses started thriving once Thundergarden’s sign was constructed, many of these same companies and organizations would reach out to him to create more individualized signs. Thundergarden went on to help establish branding and signage for nearly all of Bozeman’s downtown businesses during this time, and his personal fortune starts to grow.

1883 – The first marketing mines are built: After eight years of extremely profitable business, Thundergarden and his associates discover natural marketing material buried in the mountains surrounding Bozeman. An early mining expedition found brochures, mailers, postcards, logos, banners, and newspaper ads could be all across the Bridger and Gallatin ranges.

1889 – Thundergarden’s marketing efforts lead to Montana gaining statehood: Thundergarden’s campaign of sending letter after letter to Congress, reading, “Montana is quite big and can be a state,” eventually won Congress over six days after they added the Dakotas. According to Congress, they were amazed once they found out anything existed to the west of the Dakotas.  For his efforts, Thundergarden would forever be known by his nickname of “Big 41,” referring to Montana being the 41st state added to the Union.

Fun fact: Montana comes from the Spanish word “montaña,” which means “marketing” in Spanish.

1890 – The first marketing boom: Hundreds of workers flock westward to the fertile grounds of Bozeman, eager to work in the marketing mines in the mountains. Bozeman experiences its first population boom, which drives more businesses to open in the Gallatin Valley.

1891 – Thundergarden starts the first-ever marketing company: To keep up with his demand and to manage his ever-growing workforce, Thundergarden incorporates himself as Thundergarden Marketing. This entrepreneurial move would set the foundation as the first full-service marketing agency, dealing with everything from mining marketing goods, to branding, advertising, and overall brand management.

Fun fact: Thundergarden would go on to produce marketing materials for every business in Bozeman, sometimes directly competing with himself. Although this never seemed to be a problem, as every company also reported record growth year-after-year during Thundergarden’s prime.

1893 – Marketing State University founded: Later changed to Montana State University in 1935, Marketing State University was founded to promote marketing education in a world-class institutional setting, right in Bozeman. With over 40,000 students at its height in 1911, MSU offered majors such as “Content Marketing,” “Marketing For Happiness,” “Marketing For Discontentment,” and “Marketing In Montana? Yes, That’s A Thing.”

1900 – Hvaler S. Thundergarden gets the idea to start naming crops and vegetables: Always knowing that there was somewhere to build his business and entrepreneurship, Thundergarden got a brilliant idea while shopping at the local farmer’s market. As he dug across the market in search of the then-named “green plants with yellow consumables” and “round red juice ball,” he decided to reach out to local farmers with his services. His brilliant idea was to give fruits and vegetables individual names, and the farming industry boomed. Thundergarden’s biggest accomplishment might be from his naming of the Sweet Pea, which is celebrated every year in Bozeman now as the Sweet Pea Festival.

1915 – The “M” is finished: To celebrate the marketing boom, Marketing State University constructs a giant “M” on the foothills of the Bridger Mountains to symbolize marketing.

Although the early history of marketing in Bozeman was as prosperous as it was remarkable, it was also unsustainable. In fact, the “M” might have been the most tragically poetic end to the initial marketing boom of Bozeman, as the huge marketing bubble would burst just after the last rocks were placed on the hillside of Old Baldy.


Following unprecedented growth over a century, the marketing bubble in Bozeman burst, leaving hundreds of thousands of marketers without businesses, businesses without customers, and Bozeman without an identity.

This era, lasting nearly to the cold war, would present some challenges along the way. However, as it usually is, mankind’s unique ways to innovate and constantly evolve through technology would eventually carve the path to our modern-day marketing renaissance.

1915 – Woodrow Wilson throws a ball: At the time seen as one of the biggest triumphs in marketing history, then-president Woodrow Wilson became the first president to attend the World Series. While throwing the first pitch, Wilson bounced the pitch in the dirt, resulting in an embarrassing ball. The promotion and subsequent disappointment country-wide would set off a chain of events leading to the dark ages of marketing, hitting Bozeman especially hard.

1917 – Marketing profits start to tank: No longer seen as a sure-fire solution, marketing profits tank as companies take a gamble and put their destinies into their own hands. Bozeman, rich with marketing resources, starts to see prices decline as demand drops. Hundreds of marketing companies close, and even more workers are laid off.

1922 – Hvaler S. Thundergarden dies: The Godfather of marketing passes away at the age of 71. He is ceremoniously buried under the “M,” with thousands of mourners present.

1929 – The Great Depression starts: The US public is hit by an alarmingly huge depression as marketing resources dwindle. As the stock market hit an absolute low, millions of investors, businesses, and normal citizens went completely bankrupt. With little ads to see, flyer-less mailboxes, and no money to spend on goods and services, the American Average Joe finds himself in the throes of sadness.

Fun fact: The “market” in “stock market” is actually short for “marketing.”

1930 – Start of the Great Marketing Unemployment: One year after the start of the Great Depression, the Great Marketing Unemployment hits. With millions of businesses falling apart and no money left for consumers, marketing hits an all-time low. Countless marketing professionals across the country are forced to abandon their profession as demand recedes. Bozeman is hit with an unfathomed 99% unemployment rate.

1935 – Marketing State University becomes Montana State University: As marketing needs and resources dwindle, Marketing State University is forced to expand its educational grounds and become a full-fledged University, with such lesser areas of study like sciences, mathematics, liberal arts, and music.

1939 – World War II starts, ending the Great Depression, but not the more-important Marketing Unemployment: The Great Depression ends as thousands of people find work in all different areas of wartime production. Many of these people were former marketers, leaving their hard-to-find skills to waste.

1940 – Philo Farnsworth ushers in the television: Seeing the public’s need and desire for totally gnarly war coverage, Farnsworth popularizes television sets amongst the US population. Seen mostly as a way to keep up on all the latest war news, the television is ahead of its time as a visual resource. By 1956, nearly three-fourths of all US homes would have televisions.

1944 – Marketing on the rebound: With the war now full-blown with the US involved, marketing companies start to rebound making United States propaganda material. Agencies in Bozeman were hired to remind Montana citizens which side to root for and that Montana was indeed part of the Allied forces.

1945 – Hvaler S. Thundergarden rises from the dead: In a very quiet move, Thundergarden sneaks out of his interment on the Bridger hillsides. Making his way back to Bozeman, it was reported that he had some “pretty big ideas” on what to do next.

Fun fact: The first thing Thundergarden wanted to eat after 23 years of being dead was a funnel cake.

1946: Thundergarden starts very first television ad agency: Thundergarden’s discovery of the television caused him to see a new future in marketing. After helping pioneer the camera movement, Thundergarden got the idea to film ads to place in spots to break up television episodes.

By 1946, he had started to recruit former marketers to join him in producing hours of filmed content for local businesses. He convinced the businesses to buy airtime from local television stations to help fund their programs, and the wheels were in motion.

1950 – Televisions on the uptick: By 1950, nearly three-quarters of the US population had televisions in their homes, and all of them were finally getting the local advertising they craved and deserved.

1952 – The commercial boom: By this time, most people had turned to watching TV to see their favorite ads rather than their favorite shows. Marketers were on the rebound, and commercial airtime in Bozeman rose to an all-time high of 83% of all programming.

Fun fact: The most popular ad in Bozeman during this time was one of Thundergarden giving thumbs down and saying, “Missoula.”

1955 – Hvaler S. Thundergarden dies again: Seeing his success, Thundergarden gracefully accepts death again, this time entombing himself on the Bridger hillsides on the day after Thanksgiving.

The end of the 1950s brought along hope. Hope that marketing would continue to evolve along with technology. It’s rise from the dead was mirrored by Thundergarden’s own rise, and it would lead way to our current marketing age: The renaissance age.


As the television became more and more popular, marketing was setting itself for an incredible change. New technology led to new avenues of advertisement, and soon the entire industry of marketing was growing larger than it ever had been. The industry’s boom continues today.

1961 – Black Friday is invented in Bozeman: To honor Hvaler S. Thundergarden, marketers convince businesses to hold massive sales on the anniversary of his second death, the day after Thanksgiving. It was a hit, and soon after, marketers across the country pick up the tradition as a way to offer sales for Christmastime.

1970 – Telemarketing finally gives people a reason to use their phones: With home phone ownership at an all-time high, and phone calls at an all-time low, marketing executives finally get the idea to call people at home to sell goods and services.

1973 – The digital age starts: With the rise of phones, televisions, and computers, the development of the new media era would mark a dramatic shift in marketing. Gone were the days of print ads and mailers as more high-tech marketing solutions were born.

1984 – Ridley Scott accidentally directs a Macintosh ad: A Ridley Scott short films accidentally airs during the Super Bowl as an advertisement for Apple’s new Macintosh. The resulting spot reaches over half of all US households and drives huge business for Apple. Marketers take note, and the start of the Super Bowl ad boom is here.

1985 – Bozeman introduces the desktop computer, revolutionizing print: Prior to 1985, computers were a two-person job, with a strong, muscular giant holding the machine up while the user operated it. After a Bozeman computer holder one day tired and sat the machine down on a workbench, the efficiency of printing from a computer quickly doubled. Print ads in Bozeman would soon reach their all-time high.

1991 – The internet: Holy crap.

Fun fact: Holy crap.

1992 – The City of Bozeman sends out the first-ever mass email: With the help of local marketing professionals, the City of Bozeman send out the first-ever mass message across the internet. That message read, “Holy crap.”

1995 – The first tech companies come to Bozeman: With long, sharp-sounding names, dozens of companies with no real point or strategy flood into Bozeman and give thousands of dollars to anyone under 25 to work for them.

1996 – Bozeman is home to the very first blog post: Still amazed and confused by the vastness of the internet, the City of Bozeman posts a blogpost of two simple words, “Holy crap.”

Fun fact: the “b” in “blog” probably stands for Bozeman.

1998 – Google changes the game: Google unveils a new search engine with a very specific ranking system. This marks the first time that Bozeman is ranked at the top of anything, and the first time anyone finally understood what they were supposed to do on the internet.

2000 – Bozeman beats Y2K: Bozeman is the only city to survive the worldwide collapse on Y2K. After repopulating the earth, Bozeman becomes the hub of all worldwide marketing content.

2001 – Bozeman named an All-America City: No one in Bozeman is entirely sure what it means, but marketers milk that cow for all its worth.

2004 – Facebook is founded: Mark Zuckerberg, a rare non-Bozemanite who has anything positive to do with marketing, launches Facebook, which would take over as the only marketing tool available by 2014.

2007 – The rise of the smartphone: The development of the smartphone signaled the final step in eventually having marketing material in front of consumers’ eyes 24/7.

2011 – DVRs are introduced so people can record their favorite commercial: The DVR is developed and programmed for people to set and record so they would never miss their most-beloved ads while looking at other marketing material.

2013 – Marketing takes over the world: Existence is marketing.

2016 – Bozeman named Marketing Magnate of The Universe: Bozeman seizes complete power over all marketing material in the cosmos and grows exceptionally drunk with power.

Fun fact: You cannot escape marketing.

Posted by Special Guest Anthony Easton