Props to the old skool guerrillas

I’m looking forward to giving a couple of evening lectures this week at Chelsea College of Art & Design to students from University of the Arts London and French advertising school Sup de Pub. The topic is guerrilla and ambient advertising and I’ll be making the point that we’re actually standing on the shoulders of giants.

As well as talking about the adventurous marketing antics of people such as 19th-century circus entrepreneur Phineas Taylor Barnum and Sir Thomas Lipton of tea and infusion fame, I’ll be delving into some antiquarian literature. I was recently reading the classic text by Henry Sampson on the history of advertising, which was written in 1874. That’s right. Written in 1874. He talks about the problems created by flyposting and has a section on the stencilling of marketing messages on pavements. Unsurpisingly, Victorian police and magistrates started taking a dim view of this kind of guerrilla activity.

With the help of H G Wells, Mr Sampson would have felt right at home if he’d transported himself to 2011. According to the San Francisco Examiner, the City Attorney of the west coast town is currently pursuing Levi’s for their sidewalk graffiti on behalf of the Dockers brand. Perhaps there really is nothing new under the sun?