The myth, the mystery, the history of Promos

When producing a newspaper, one constantly battles with space. Ads require space. Stories require space. Photos require space. The delicate art of layout attempts to expertly balance these elements.
But occasionally, tragedy strikes:
A story might run short, an ad might get killed at the last minute, or a photo might end up being smaller than planned.
After the initial reaction of frenzied panic, suicide attempts and general tomfoolery, the decision is typically made to bring out the one shining light in the perpetual darkness of empty newspaper space.
I speak, of course, of the ‘promo.’
A promo is a small, space-filling advertisment that promotes the newspaper it appears in. ‘Promo’ is short for promotion, which comes from the latin word promocius, roughly translated as ‘to take up useless space which otherwise would be blank with shameless promotion and bad pseudo-kitschy humor.’
Promos have been around since the beginning of the printed word. It is reported that some of the pages of the Gutenberg Bible have small promos at the bottom of some pages. Some examples:
God rules.
Have you confessed today?
Hey you, check out Leviticus!
The most famous promo of all is John Hancock’s extra-large signature on the Declaration of Independence. The document failed to reach the end of the page, and thus, he had to sign his name extra large. His promo kept the declaration looking like a finished document, without the embarrassment associated with empty space. Some even say that the polished appearance of the document is the major reason the United States gained its independence.

The Minnesota Daily is world-renowned for its promos. An industry leader since its inception, the Daily has an entire department of 50 of the countries hottest young designers working tirelessly 18 hours a day to keep the promos fresh, funny and sassy.
This page presents a sample of their work throughout the years. Enjoy, and please, the next time you read a funny promo and ejaculate a stuttering guffaw in the middle of class and slowly shrink down in your seat as your classmates stilletto-like eyes burn horrid existential holes in your skull, think for a moment about how lucky we are as a nation to be able to afford quality promos. Peace.