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Libraries Acquire Papers of Marketing Guru

Hartman Center Will Become Corporate Archive for Direct Marketing Pioneer and His Agency
Courtesy of Wunderman
The John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History at Duke University has acquired the papers of direct marketing pioneer Lester Wunderman and will become the corporate archive of the global marketing firm he founded half a century ago.

Lester Wunderman is the chairman emeritus and founder of Wunderman, one of the largest advertising, marketing, and consulting companies in the world. He is credited with pioneering a number of direct marketing concepts that are now firmly established practices of modern-day advertising—such as the toll-free 1-800 number, the credit card customer rewards program, and the tipped-in magazine subscription card. Even the term “direct marketing” is widely attributed to him. He was inducted in the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 1983.

Now the papers of Lester Wunderman, along with those of the agency he founded in 1958, will be housed at the Hartman Center, part of Duke University’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. It is the first significant collection documenting direct marketing to be given to the Hartman Center.

Spanning approximately 50 years, the collection includes 60 boxes of writings, correspondence, speeches, and audio visual materials from Lester Wunderman’s personal files. An additional 300 boxes are devoted to the historical files of the Wunderman agency. These include creative work done by the agency over the years, training materials, videos, client files, and related documents.

Moreover, the Hartman Center will become the corporate archivists for Wunderman, allowing the collection to continue to grow. According to Jacqueline Reid, director of the Hartman Center, direct marketing is a major new collecting focus for the Center. “Direct marketing, being a $150 billion industry, has made a major impact on advertising history in the last 100 years and deserves to be documented so that students and scholars can study it,” Reid said.

Taken as a whole, the Wunderman papers trace the development of an industry that has gone from mail order to the Internet, and an agency whose clients have included American Express, Columbia House Record & Tape Club, Gevalia Coffee, Ford Motor Company, and many others. Lester Wunderman wrote a proposal for the first American Express card in the 1960s, at a time when credit cards were first being introduced.

“I have been excited, delighted and engaged in the daily evolution of advertising,” said Lester Wunderman. “While the past may in fact be history, the Wunderman Archives will continue to make it part of the ongoing development of advertising.”

The Hartman Center is home to the records of other well-known advertising agencies, such as J. Walter Thompson, Warwick Baker & O’Neill, Wells Rich Greene, Bates Worldwide, and DMB&B. “We attract scholars and business researchers from all over the world,” said Reid.

The Lester Wunderman papers are currently being processed and will be available to researchers starting in January 2011.  The larger Wunderman agency collection will be processed and available at a later date. For more information, contact the Hartman Center at 919-660-5827, or visit their website.
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Posted 22 November 2010

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Last modified November 22, 2010 10:08:16 AM EST