Guide to the J. Walter Thompson Company. Samuel W. (Samuel Williams) Meek Papers, 1917-1980 and undated, bulk 1945-1962
The Samuel W. Meek Papers span the years from 1917-1980, although the bulk of the material dates from 1945-1962 and a few items are undated. Samuel Meek served as Vice President in Charge of International Operations of the J. Walter Thompson Company from 1930 to 1964. Working out of the New York office as the head of the International Department, Meek established offices around the world, provided continuing support and advice to the heads of these international offices, made policy decisions related to international operations, and served as a consultant to a number of U.S. government and private agencies concerned with international relations and commerce. The Series arrangement created by the J. Walter Thompson archivist reflects Meek's activities and has been retained. Several categories of material are included: correspondence, market surveys and research reports, letters, official documents (such as the records of Meek's military service), and the transcripts of talks.
The International Offices Series, 1942-1964 and n.d. is comprised primarily of correspondence between Samuel Meek and the heads of J. Walter Thompson's international offices. The majority of the items relate to the offices in Vienna, Toronto, Paris, London, Rome and Tokyo. The work of the offices in Denmark, Argentia, the Caribbean, Greece, Holland, Mexico and Pakistan are less extensively documented. Market surveys and research reports are also included. In addition to Samuel Meek, correspondents include Robert M. Campbell, Wilfrid Sanders, Justin de Blank, Kevin Farrell, Virgil D. Reed, Denys M. Scott, James H. Page, and Harry A. Lee. Major clients represented include UniLever, Kodak, Nestles, Shell Oil, Cheesbrough-Pond's, Rowntree, Olivetti, Oneida, Nabisco, Schick, Campbell Soup, American Chicle Co., General Foods, Honeywell Co., and Sanyo-Scott.
The International Department Series, 1930-1962 and undated is comprised of documents related to J. Walter Thompson's role as an international advertising agency. Included are a 1957 personnel directory, letters outlining interational operations policy, and the transcript of a 1961 interview with Stanley Resor related to the international aspects of the company.
The International Marketing Series, 1954-1962 and undated, includes correspondence with and reports from a number of councils and agencies such as the Business Council for International Understanding, the U.S. Information Agency, and the U.S. State Department. Correspondence related to the planning of a Series of trade fairs, 1954-1961, is also included. This material documents the role that the J. Walter Thompson Company and other multinational businesses played in foreign relations in the era of the Marshall Plan.
The International Correspondents Series, 1945-1962, includes correspondence and informal reports on advertising conditions in various European and Middle Eastern countries. Several of the items in this small collection seem to be preliminary evaluations designed to help Samuel Meek decide whether conditions were appropriate to the opening of a branch office in a particular locale. The correspondents seem to be acquaintances of Meek or simply knowledgeable individuals rather than J. Walter Thompson employees.
The Personal Series, 1917-1979 and undated is primarily concerned with Samuel Meek's personal life: records of his military service, financial details of his retirement, his coat of arms, and other issues. A few items of correspondence with James Webb Young and information about Stanley B. Resor's death and the establishment of the Stanley and Helen Resor Fund for Economic Research at Yale University are included.
The Miscellaneous Series includes several essays about advertising and a few other items.
- Collection Number
- J. Walter Thompson Company. Samuel W. (Samuel Williams) Meek papers
- 1917-1980 and undated, bulk 1945-1962
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- 3.5 Linear Feet, About 800 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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How to Cite
[Identification of item], J. Walter Thompson Company. Samuel W. (Samuel Williams) Meek Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The International Offices Series spans the years 1942-1964, although the bulk of the material dates from 1945-1960 and a few items are undated. The records consist of correspondence and documents of market research done at the J. Walter Thompson offices outside the United States. The majority of the items relate to the offices in Vienna, Toronto, Paris, London, Rome and Tokyo. The work of the office in Denmark from 1942-1962 and in Argentina, the Caribbean, Greece, Holland, Mexico and Pakistan during 1964-1966 is less extensively documented. The correspondence is primarily between Samuel Meek,Vice President in charge of International Operations, 1930-1964, and the directors of the various branch offices. Most letters and telegrams focus on the practical aspects of establishing and running the offices in foreign countries: budgets, personnel issues, potential clients, competition from other advertising agencies, and market research. Others deal with the more personal aspects of a multi-national business: arranging gifts, meetings and receptions for visiting dignitaries, assisting executives of J. Walter Thompson and of client companies with their travel plans, letters of condolence for the deaths of executives' family members, etc.
A frequent topic of the correspondence is how to reduce xenophobia and to increase the acceptance of an American advertising agency and U.S. products in the face of the nationalistic climate in many of the relevant countries. During the 1940s, the London office was preoccupied with counteracting German anti-British propaganda in the U.S.
Clients of the company represented in the International Offices Series include Lever, Kodak, Nescafe, Shell Oil, Cheesbrough-Pond's, Rowntree, Olivetti, Oneida, Nabisco, Schick, Campbell Soup, American Chicle Co., General Foods, Honeywell Co., and Sanyo-Scott.
Correspondents include Samuel Meek, Robert M. Campbell (Toronto Office), Wilfrid Sanders (Toronto Office), Justin de Blank (Paris Office), Kevin Farrell (Paris Office), Ruth Waldo (New York Office), Virgil D. Reed (London Office), Denys M. Scott (Paris Office), James H. Page (Tokyo Office), Harry A. Lee (San Francisco Office). Other correspondents include officials of the U.S. and other governments.
Folders are grouped by country and then arranged chronologically.
The International Department Series is comprised of documents related to J. Walter Thompson's employing an international advertising agency. A 1957 personnel directory lists those employees of J. Walter Thompson with international backgrounds. The “ Policy Letters” file includes correspondence related to various international operations policy issues. Touched on here are the undesirability of an apprenticeship system, identifying optimal locations for agency offices, coordinating the international offices, volume discounts for advertisements, possible conflicts of interest in assuming a new client or product, training employees for foreign offices, producing speculative copy, principles of house advertising, how to handle unsolicited ideas, business ethics, and the creative process. The transcript of the 1961 interview with Stanley Resor regards the international aspects of the agency.
The folders are organized alphabetically by topic.
The International Marketing Series is comprised of correspondence and reports of the Business Council for International Understanding. Issues treated include ways to adapt products for foreign markets and understanding that cultural differences may make certain products unacceptable in a particular country. One folder includes correspondence with the Department of Commerce related to the planning of trade fairs.
J. Walter Thompson's role as both an adviser to the U.S. government and as an ambassador of good will towards the U.S. and capitalism is reflected in the Series of correspondence with the U.S. Information Agency, the Economic Cooperation ADM, the Mutual Security Agency and the U.S. State Department. The Agora Study, 1962, was “designed to stimulate the democratic process at its roots.” The U.S. Travel Promotion Plan was designed to promote the travel of foreigners to the United States.
This small collection of miscellaneous correspondence includes an evaluation of the advertising situation in Switzerland (1959), A Study of the Advertising Agency Business in Switzerland and Sweden (1959), Impressions of Beirut (1961), and letters to advertising companies in Kuwait and Greece. A report on the condition of Holland's economy and infrastructure (1945) and correspondence with Jan Fels and others in the Netherlands. Also included are a report on agency representation in Portugal and correspondence related to the potential for business in Portugal and Spain.
Arranged alphabetically by country and then chronologically.
This miscellaneous correspondence discusses details of retirement compensation and tax liability, stock holdings, arrangements for various talks and luncheons, and Meek's coat of arms. Several letters (1937-1938, 1968) are exchanges with James Webb Young. Materials related to Robert R. Mullen pertain to public relations for the Eisenhower- Nixon campaign, the United States Information Agency, and Robert R. Mullen's public relations and marketing company.
|1895 September 22||
Born, Nashville, Tennessee
Graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy
Commissioned as 2nd lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps August 27
Received A.B. from Yale University, New Haven, Conn.;
Promoted to 1st lieutenant and then temporary captain, U.S.Marine Corps
Decorated with the Silver Star, the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster; France's Croix de Guerre with Palm; the Victory Medal with Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Defensive Sector clasps and three bronze stars; and the French Fourragere for valiant service.
Discharged April 3.
Joined the Charles W. Hoyt Co.
|1921 October 14||
Married Priscilla Mitchel
Served on the board of Time Magazine
Joined J. Walter Thompson as manager of the London office
J. Walter Thompson Co. opened offices in Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Poland, and Uruguay
Returned to New York office, elected Vice President and Director of International Operations
Served as a Special Consultant to the Secretary of the Navy for Air and member of the Navy Civilian Advisory Committee. Made several trips to the Pacific area and visited the Carribean and South America for the Navy.
Awarded a Presidential Citation by President Truman and a Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Invited to join a Civilian Advisory Committee to work with the Navy on its postwar program. Upon the recommendation of the Army, Navy, and Marines, awarded the Medal for Merit for his service to the U.S. Navy.
Awarded the Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award for outstanding services to the U.S. during World War II.
Promoted to Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of J. Walter Thompson Co.
One of five purchasers of The Greenwich Times, Greenwich, Conn.
Helped to found The Episcopalian
Operated Walker and Company, a book publisher
|1964 January 28||
Retired from the J. Walter Thompson Co.
President and Director of the Rome Daily American in Italy
|1981 August 15||
Died in a Greenwich, Connecticut hospital of complications following a heart attack
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- J. Walter Thompson Company. International Offices
- J. Walter Thompson Company. New York Office
- John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- Meek, Samuel W. (Samuel Williams), 1895-
- Advertising -- Research
- Advertising -- Management
- Advertising executives
- Advertising agencies -- History
- Advertising agencies
The papers of Samuel Williams Meek were transferred to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library from the J. Walter Thompson Company in 1987.
Processed by: Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Staff
Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller
Processing of this collection was supported in part by gifts from the J. Walter Thompson Company Fund and the John and Kelly Hartman Foundation.