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Roldós y Compañía, the oldest operating advertising agency in the world

Carolina Serra Folch (Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain)
Cristina Martorell Castellano (Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Article publication date: 10 January 2024




This paper aims to review the history of Roldós y Compañía, one of the oldest advertising agencies in the world and the oldest currently operating. This research aims to highlight the importance of this agency and its founder, Rafael Roldós Viñolas – the first documented advertising agent in Spain to this day – in shaping the emerging Spanish advertising industry at the end of the 19th century.


The methodology used in this paper is based on a review of period and contemporary literature, as well as on newspaper sources and documents from the private archive of Roldós, S.A.


In its early years, the agency’s participation in two of the most significant events for the modernization of the city of Barcelona, the Universal Exhibition of 1888 and the International Exhibition of 1929; as well as the ideation and implementation of several urban projects with the aim of finding new formulas and advertising media are factors that make it one of the most important in the country. In 1929, the alliance Roldós-Tiroleses, S.A. de Publicidad, the first great merger of advertising agencies in Spain, which lasted three years, was led. The outbreak of the Civil War and the subsequent post-war period marked a few years of business irregularities and advertising silences that gave instability to its activity. During the last third of the 20th century, the agency was immersed in the generalized advertising euphoria around the world. With the arrival of North American agencies in Barcelona and the consequent business movements, Roldós, S.A. specializes in the processing of advertisements and media planning. The 21st century began with important changes in the media planning sector, and the agency was forced to restructure its services and organizational structure. In 2022, it celebrates 150 years of uninterrupted activity, recognized by the country’s business sector.

Practical implications

This research aims to internationalize the history of the Roldós y Compañía agency, so that it can be studied together with other names of Anglo-Saxon advertising pioneers who were contemporaries of Rafael Roldós.


Scientific research on the history of advertising agencies, especially in Spain, is scarce, so this paper aims to help fill this gap.



Serra Folch, C. and Castellano, C.M. (2024), "Roldós y Compañía, the oldest operating advertising agency in the world", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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