Our final biography of 2012 is The First Adman: Thomas Bish and the Birth of Modern Advertising. Well, it’s not really a biography, as Bish was an elusive figure who became overshadowed by his own creativity.
The First Adman reveals the untold story of how modern advertising was pioneered 200 years ago by the entrepreneur, self-publicist and dodgy Member of Parliament, Thomas Bish. Royalty and politicians courted this early media star and society figure, who was one of the best-known men in the land and allegedly more famous than the prime minister himself.
Bish’s promotional creativity helped the old state lottery raise the equivalent of £2 billion for good causes, also bringing him great wealth. Hiring the essayist Charles Lamb as a copywriter and George Cruikshank to illustrate his advertisements, Bish professionalised ad campaigns. Techniques he pioneered include spin doctoring, graphic design, modern typography, direct marketing, and even early market research. Unfortunately his talents did not prevent him from being expelled from both the Stock Exchange and the House of Commons. Although in many ways a thorough rogue, Bish was one of the few prominent Englishmen to argue that the Irish were being unfairly treated, and his Plea for Ireland made a compelling case for economic stimulus, a position that earned him the friendship of Daniel O’Connell.
The complexity, inventiveness and sheer audacity of Bish are all captured in this rollicking story.
To find out more, please visit: