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Wallace, Thomas Bevan (1915–1981)

by John Sinclair and Rowan Wilken

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Thomas Bevan Wallace (1915-1981), advertising executive, was born on 1 April 1915 at Mosman, Sydney, son of Sydney-born parents Thomas Bevan Wallace, accountant, and his wife Clara May, née Shirley. Bevan was educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore). He began his career in the sales department of the British-based soap company Lever Bros Ltd in 1931. Enlisting in the Militia in January 1939 and transferring to the Australian Imperial Force on 31 May 1940, he served in the Middle East in 1941-42 with the 2/1st Survey Regiment. In September 1942 he was discharged to enlist in the Royal Australian Air Force. He qualified as a pilot and in 1944-45 flew Wellingtons with No.458 Squadron, a unit of the Mediterranean Allied Coastal Air Force. Commissioned in April 1945, he returned to Australia in November and was demobilised the following month. He had married Peggy Clare Rawson, a servicewoman, on 13 February 1943 in the chapel of his old school.

Rejoining Lever Bros, Wallace was a product manager in its advertising department. In 1947 he moved to Lintas (Aust.) Ltd, an advertising company that had originated as the ‘in-house’ agency of Lever Bros in Britain and was one of the first foreign advertising agencies in Australia when it arrived in 1931. He was transferred as a manager to Lintas New Zealand in 1948, and the following year became advertising manager of Lever Bros (NZ) Ltd.

In 1952 Wallace returned to Sydney as general sales manager with Lever Bros’ partner company, J. Kitchen & Sons Pty Ltd. Wallace rejoined Lintas in 1955, becoming managing director in 1958, and chairman and chief executive in 1968. Under him, Lintas enjoyed a strong reputation for consumer research. In 1970 Lintas merged with an American agency, Sullivan, Stauffer, Colwell & Bayles, to become SSC&B-Lintas. Wallace was chairman and chief executive of the merged entity in Australia until 1973, and its regional co-ordinator until 1974.

In retirement Wallace dedicated himself to the institutional development of the advertising industry, particularly by forging links between national advertisers, the media and advertising agencies. In 1974 Wallace was one of the prime movers in establishing the Advertising Federation of Australia. He then helped to guide the AFA into a new joint industry body, the Australian Advertising Industry Council, founded in 1978 in conjunction with the Australian Association of National Advertisers and the Media Council of Australia; Wallace was honorary secretary. He also chaired the Australian Government Advertising Advisory Council, and was a member of the regulatory body, the Advertising Standards Council.

Wallace was appointed OBE in December 1977. In 1980 the AANA declared him ‘advertising man of the year’. The citation mentioned his ‘dedication, tolerance and sincerity’ and the ‘warmth of his personality’. Enjoying golf, tennis and gardening at his home at Beauty Point, in later life Wallace was also a council member (1978-81) of the Royal Blind Society of New South Wales. Survived by his wife and their son and three daughters, he died of a malignant melanoma on 19 July 1981 at Mosman and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Advertising News, 1 Sept 1955, p 18, 31 July 1981, p 8
  • Australian Financial Review, 21 July 1981, p 14
  • A9300, item 5242267, B883, item 4885029, B4747, item 9322176 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

John Sinclair and Rowan Wilken, 'Wallace, Thomas Bevan (1915–1981)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/wallace-thomas-bevan-15871/text27072, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 18 July 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

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