26 May 2024

A History of Advertising:
The First 300,000 Years

A History of Advertising

A History of Advertising, the first comprehensive history of advertising, was published in 2022. While the original edition was illustrated in colour throughout, the paperback edition published this year has greyscale illustrations. The book, by Jef I. Richards, is subtitled The First 300,000 Years, but that vast timespan is not meant to be taken literally. As Richards acknowledges, “there are many possible starting points for advertising history,” but they are all less than ten thousand years old. In fact, more than half of the book is devoted to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

A History of Advertising is deeply researched and unprecedented in scope, and Richards has written the first complete narrative history of advertising. Previous books on the subject have all been limited in various ways: Mark Tungate’s Adland covers the ad industry rather than the ads themselves, Stephane Pincas and Marc Loiseau’s A History of Advertising has plenty of images but very little text, and Peter Russell and Senta Slingerland’s Game Changers covers only the last sixty years. The nearest equivalent is Simon Veksner’s less comprehensive 100 Ideas That Changed Advertising.