I’ve been looking through old computer magazines trying to find anything about Sierra. I’ve found the occasional advertisement, or the occasional short article. Granted, I currently have a small selection material to draw from, and I hope to acquire more. But it does seem that Sierra did not rely so much upon advertising, as upon word of mouth and promotions within computer stores.
I would have to agree with your idea that so much of today’s consumer market (not just video games) is driven by force-fed advertisement. Companies look for any place that they can get an advertisement. Entire busses are painted to advertise (instead of just the advertisement panels), movies now have 10 minutes of product ads before the 10 minutes of previews, etc.
But I would be interested as you to hear more from Ken about what courses of advertisement Sierra took in the early years.