Recently at the Cambridge University Library, we stumbled upon A History of Advertising from the Earliest Times, by Henry Sampson – written in the late 1800s.

Turns out, over a century before we were complaining about it, Sampson was also lamenting an exponential increase in advertising.

He reserved a particular disdain for the “Champion Billposter”

This “man of paste”, whose job it was to stick ads anywhere and everywhere.

Ads for sherry, safes, pianos, watches, eye liquid, newspapers, insurance and banking, pasted onto every spare millimetre of wall.

In fact, one of the most popular songs of the day was apparently thus:

“I’m Sammy Slap the billsticker, and you must all agree, sirs,
I sticks to business like a trump while business sticks to me, sirs.
There’s some folks calls me plasterer, but they deserve a banging,
Cause yer see, genteelly speaking, that my trade is paperhanging.
With my paste, paste, paste!
All the world is puffing,
So I’ll paste, paste, paste!”

Ring any bells?

The modern day digital marketeer/content manager/social media guru is this century’s billsticker.

Putting ads all over websites, hoping someone will notice them.

Creating “content” for “content’s” sake.

Tweeting irrelevant messages to a non-existent audience.

Sadly, it seems the Sammy Slaps of this world will always be with us.


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