1,600,000 BC Homo Erectus emerges in East Africa, unaware that his
name is about to become the butt of schoolboy jokes for thousands of
40,000 BC Modern man (Homo Sapiens) begins to design tools, barter and
create art. When he swaps a club for a cave drawing depicting himself in
the act of slaughtering a mammoth, media sales is invented.
15,000 BC The first domestic settlements lead to the invention of the
plough, the cart and the words: ’I’ll be home a bit late, I’m going for
a quick drink after work.’
3,150 BC First Egyptian dynasty. Hieroglyphics create the first comic
strip, in which a pet dog is mistaken for the god Anubis, with hilarious
214 BC The Great Wall of China is constructed, creating fantastic
ambient media opportunities.
Approximately 4 BC Jesus is born. The actual date is uncertain but the
time of year is likely to be around Christmas.
868 The earliest printed book is prepared in China. The advertising
department asks for the first right-hand page, forgetting that Chinese
script is read backwards.
1066 The Norman Conquest of England. The Bayeux Tapestry is created,
with a premium advertising slot next to the scene where Harold gets it
in the eye.
1086 The Domesday Book is compiled. To cope with demand, the first
classified advertising sales team is formed.
1400 Geoffrey Chaucer dies. English will now have to be written in a
form people actually understand.
1476 William Caxton sets up his printing press at Westminster.
Advertising sales people rejoice, as they can now tell clients: ’Sorry,
the printers cocked it up.’
1498 Vasco Da Gama discovers the sea route to India, bringing back the
recipe for curry. Media types now know where to eat after having a
skinful at the Dog and Duck.
1577 Sir Francis Drake begins his voyage around the world. Sales people
bite their nails as they await his return with tobacco.
1665 The Great Plague of London is quickly followed by the Great Fire of
London. A year later The London Gazette launches, having missed the two
most important stories in the city’s history.
1693 Ladies Mercury, the first women’s title, is founded. It contains
ads for clothes, cosmetics and miracle diets, and articles on finding
the perfect man, keeping him amused in bed, interior design and planning
1731 Gentleman’s Magazine, the first men’s title, is founded. It
contains ads for razors, aftershave and hair restoring products, and
articles on achieving the perfect bedroom performance, boxing and
pulling at office parties.
1841 Punch is founded - its mascot is a funny little man who loves
beating the establishment around the head with a sausage.
1846 The Daily News is launched, but advertisers fear its content might
be too racy as it is edited by pulp novelist and celebrated ’lad’,
1857 The Daily Telegraph invents the box numbering system for classified
advertisements. This paves the way for mysterious ’media sales’ job ads
that don’t give the name of any publication.
1895 Guglielmo Marconi broadcasts the first radio message. Advertising
agencies grit their teeth, as they will soon have to find a way of
making clever, relevant and effective radio ads. They will never
1900 Pearson launches The Daily Express. Advertisers are outraged, as it
is the first paper to put news on the front page instead of ads.
1914-18 The First World War. That bloody poster of Kitchener pointing
his finger appears for the first time. It is destined to turn up in
histories of advertising for decades to come.
1931 The Audit Bureau of Circulations is formed. Sales teams retire to
the pub to discuss their strategy.
1936 BBC TV is launched to a universal lack of interest from
1939-45 The Second World War. Those bloody ’careless talk costs lives’
posters appear for the first time. They are destined to turn up in
histories of advertising for decades to come.
1955 ITV is launched. That’s more like it, say advertisers.
1958 Dr Vivian Fuchs attempts to cross Antarctica. This is of no
interest, apart from generating the headline: ’Doctor Fuchs off to
1964 The Daily Herald becomes The Sun, giving media sales people - and
everybody else - something entertaining to read for a change.
1966 The Times finally begins printing news on its front page.
1969 The first independent media agency launches. Sales teams retire to
the pub to discuss their strategy. Some simply retire.
1978 The Times suspends publication for 11 months due to industrial
action over those new-fangled ’computers’. Spies look for somewhere else
to place enigmatic small ads.
1982 Channel 4 launches. But judging by the large number of gaps in
which nothing happens, advertisers are less than impressed.
1986 There’s a jobs jamboree for people working in media sales, as
Today, The Sunday Sport and The Independent are all born.
1989 The Sunday Correspondent is launched. However, it fails to find a
market for a shambolic, badly designed tabloid Sunday newspaper, and
closes the following year.
1994 The Electronic Telegraph becomes the first national newspaper on
the internet. Media sales people wished they’d taken a computer studies
GCSE instead of opting for art because it looked like a doss.
1997 Channel 5 hits TV screens. Advertisers are enthralled by its
mixture of blockbuster films, quality drama, ground-breaking comedy and
1999 Campaign Media Business launches, to the delight of a bunch of
media hacks who have been looking for a decent job for ages.
2000 and beyond. With wireless application protocol, interactive digital
TV and electronic paper all on the horizon, media sales people begin
retraining as rocket scientists.