J. Walter Thompson Company (part 1)
J. Walter Thompson Company (part 1)
Founded in 1864 as the Carlton and Smith Agency, the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT) grew to become one of the largest advertising agencies in the world and the first to develop a global footprint. Widely considered the flagship American advertising agency for most of the 20th century, JWT was a pioneer and innovator credited with the development and expansion of print, radio and television advertising; an early advocate of trademark and brand management; and famed for its attention to market research and demographic lifestyle trends. JWT's advertisements helped to turn a number of its clients' products into cultural icons: Kodak, Ford, RCA; Oscar Mayer; Kraft; the U.S. Marine Corps and many others.
This site features a timeline of JWT's 150-year history that highlights key personnel; long-standing client relationships; office openings and technical achievements and innovations. It includes a more in-depth overview of materials from the J. Walter Thompson Company Archives housed within the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History at Duke's Rubenstein Library, along with links and brief descriptions of the agency's collections available for research.
Timeline created by Rick Collier.
James Walter Thompson was born Oct. 28, 1847 in Pittsfield, Mass. A distant cousin of Theodore Roosevelt, Thompson spent most of his childhood in Fremont, Ohio. Navy records show Thompson enlisting at age 17, in 1864, for two years as a seaman, and then enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1867. He was discharged in 1868 and hired soon after by William J. Carlton as an assistant in his advertising business. Thompson purchased the agency from Carlton in 1878. The following year Thompson married Mary Riggs, daughter of the prominent artist James Bogle. Thompson retired from advertising in 1916, selling his agency to Stanley Resor and a group of partners. An avid sailor and yachtsman, Thompson belonged to the New York Yacht Club from 1886 until his death in 1928, but never officially held the title of "Commodore" as he was fondly called. He was said to be fond of light opera, especially Gilbert & Sullivan, and himself had a fine tenor voice in his church choir. Thompson was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 1979.
William James Carlton (1838-1902) was born in New Hampshire, raised in New York and New Jersey, and attended the Genessee Wesleyan Seminary (forerunner to Syracuse University). As a young man, Carlton was employed as a clerk by his stepfather, Dr. Thomas Carlton, who was Senior Agent for the Methodist Book Concern. He enlisted in the Union Army and rose to the rank of Captain during the Civil War; upon mustering out of the military in 1864, Dr. Carlton urged William to go into advertising. Carlton and Edmund A. Smith established the Carlton & Smith advertising business in New York, N.Y., primarily placing advertising notices in newspapers and magazines produced by the Methodist Book Concern. The firm initially resided at 171 Broadway before relocating to 39 Park Row in 1870. Little is known of Edmund Smith, who left the firm in 1868 (Carlton renamed the business after himself); Smith was a finance man and presumably a silent partner who left once the business became firmly established.
James Walter Thompson bought the Carlton agency from William Carlton, reportedly for $500.00 for the business and another $800 for the office furniture, and renamed the business after himself. Popular lore relates that Thompson changed his name to J. Walter in order to distinguish himself from another New York businessman also named James Thompson. In an early publication, the"Red Book" published in 1895, Thompson stated his advertising philosophy: "Skilled work, when published, costs no more than the work without skill. So that the best work, such as I give, is the cheapest because it brings better results." It proved to be an enduring philosophy, reiterated nearly a hundred years later with the development of the Thompson Way account management tools in the late 1980s. In the early years JWT maintained offices in New York, Cincinnati, Boston, adding an office in Chicago in 1891.
Pond's was founded by Theron Pond in Utica, N.Y., in 1846 and later relocated to Connecticut to take advantage of the availability of witch hazel, the primary ingredient in Pond's Extract. JWT acquired the account in 1886 and promoted Pond's Extract mainly through newspapers. In 1907 company chemists developed a cleansing cream and vanishing cream, which JWT promoted through a "2 cream" campaign that ran from 1916 to 1923. In the early 1920s Pond's came under intense competition from products that were often more expensive but not necessarily more effective. JWT responded by developing a campaign that gathered testimonials from prominent American and International socialites, celebrities and royalty. The endorsement campaign ran for over 40 years beginning in 1924. JWT also produced advertising for other Pond's products, including Face Powder in the 1930s and a pressed-powder cake ("compress") called Angel Face after World War II. JWT handled the Cutex account upon Pond's acquisition of the brand from Northam Warren in 1963.
The first documented use of a corpoate logo is the Owl and Lamp icon. It appeared in the 1887 edition of the Red Ear publication. An 1897 article in a JWT publication called it "The Emblem of Wisdom and the Lamp of Science" and was seen to exemplify J. Walter Thompson's core advertising philosophy. To mark the agency's 100th anniversary in 1964, JWT adopted a new company-wide monogram. A derivative of the company's newsletter masthead, the logo was meant to convey a "feeling of smartness and modernity." The "JWT" oval monogram, "J. Walter Thompson" signature and color schemes were standardized in 1989 with the introduction of an official corporate blue and grey. As the "personification of J. Walter Thompson agency," a stylized "Commodore" was also introduced. In 1997 JWT hired The Partners, Ltd., a design consulting firm specializing in corporate branding, to reimagine it's exisitng corporate logos with the goal of "disciplined and consistent brand communication" that reflected "pride in our heritage, while unmistakably looking into the future." The blue/gray color scheme was abandonded in favor of a blue and green color combination. The J. Walter Thompson signature, in use since the early 20th century, was also given an updated look. In 2004, when the agency officially changed its name to JWT, the agency's visual identity was again adapted. The font was changed to a classic sans serif coupled with three colors developed specifically for the logo, Juniper, Wheat, and Tobasco.
Charles Raymond (1861-1935) first met James Thompson in 1889 when Raymond was working at the Hubbard Company (most noted for their Lydia Pinkham advertisements). Raymond joined JWT the following year, and on the occasion of the 1891 Exhibition in Chicago, came to Chicago to open an office there. Some of his early accounts involved bicycle manufacturers in the midwest, such as Gormurry & Jeffery (Rambler), Columbia and the Indiana Bicycle Company, convincing them of the value of magazine advertising and also of the added value involved in "position advertising"--buying space in specific positions in a magazine, such as the inside front cover or the back covers of an issue. Raymond was made a Vice President in 1896 and remained with JWT until his retirement in 1920. He is widely respected as a pioneer of advertising in Chicago and the Midwest.
Charles Raymond opened a Chicago branch office of J. Walter Thompson in the Tacoma Building in 1891. The office relocated to the Rookery Building in 1893 where it would remain until moved into the Wrigley Building in 1924. The Wrigely Building would be the home of JWT's Chicago Offices for nearly 40 years when they moved into the John Hancock Building. The Chicago Office grew to become one of the largest of JWT's offices, serving major clients such as Kraft and was the original office for the Ford account before it moved to Detroit. Notable campaigns produced by the Chicago Office include the the Oscar Mayer jingles "I Wish I Was an Oscar Mayer Wiener" and "My bologna has a name," 7-Up's "The Uncola" (1969) and JWT's first slogan for Ford, "There's a Ford in Your Future" (1945). In April 2009 JWT announced the closing of the Chicago office, but later recanted and retained a small staff there.
Dorr Felt (d. 1930) was a machinist who devised a mechanical calculator and entered a partnership with Robert Tarrant in Chicago in 1887 to build and market the machine, named the Comptometer. JWT acquired the account in 1892, through the personal relationship between Chicago Office head Charles Raymond and Felt. The initial advertising budget of $600.00 doubled annually for the next several years until it became a significant account for the Chicago Office. The Comptometer was advertised in newspapers and magazines with copy aimed at business clientele. Felt insisted on approving every advertisement, and by around 1920 the company had taken to producing their own advertising, which reduced JWT's role to that of space buyers to place the advertisements. JWT's Business Extension Department lamented in 1926 that "the situation is a very peculiar, and, from our standpoint, hopeless one. The only reason we retain the account is because of the rather sentimental attachment to it that has developed after a great many years' association."
JWT managed Swift advertising for four product categories--pork products, institutional publicity, Sunbright cleanser, and fertilizers--out of the Chicago Office. Prior to its association with JWT, Swift mainly had run small advertisements in Chicago-area newspapers, but Louis Swift wanted to become the first nationally brand of ham and bacon products. JWT began placing advertising in monthly magazines and publications aimed at women who as homemakers controlled most household buying decisions. Institutional advertising initially had to contend with public opinion of slaughterhouses in the wake of tainted meat scandals and works such as Upton Sinclair's "Jungle." Beginning in 1918, JWT produced a series of editorial-style public relations advertisements with titles such as "Why Is the Price of Meat So High?" to help explain the meat-packing business to consumers. During the 1920s the campaign expanded to include a historical series on the history of the packing industry. JWT initiated the practice of putting ruler marks on packages of lard to show consumers where to cut the block to obtain a tablespoon or a cupful of the product; this feature became common practice for nearly all brands of butter, margarine and block lard. For Swift's line of fertilizer, JWT's innovation was the creation of "Authorized Swift Agents," product-line expert dealers who sold Swift fertilizers exclusively. JWT also oversaw the launch in 1924 of Vigaro, an odor-free fertilizer marketed to home gardeners, and Swift's line of fresh meats, the first brand to be advertised and marketed nationally, in 1929. Beginning in 1956, Swift's new advertising Manager, Ray Weber, began moving Swift product lines away from JWT, who eventually resigned from the account in 1958.
JWT held the Cream of Wheat account from 1895-1907, and then from 1922-1938. In 1895 a representative from JWT visited the North Dakota Milling Company and obtained an order to place advertisements in the Ladies Home Journal. The original advertising budget was $1200. The original Cream of Wheat spokes-character was a cartoon caricature of an African American. JWT recommended changing it to look like a real human being, and eventually an employee at Kohlsaat's restaurant in Chicago (widely believed to be Frank L. White, 1867-1938) served as the model for Rastus the Chef. Sales rapidly increased until they peaked around 1906. The renamed Cream of Wheat Company pulled the account from JWT and it bounced from agency to agency for several years without improving sales. The account returned to JWT in 1922. JWT wished to eliminate the Rastus trade character, but the company resisted due to a sentimental attachment. Campaigns through the 1920s featured a mixture of Rastus and "reason why" advertisements, and became celebrated for the use of prominent artists, including Montgomery Flagg. Edward Brewer, and N.C. Wyeth.
JWT acquired the advertising account for Libby's canned meats and fruit products in 1897, and added a separate account for canned milk in 1918. Up to 1916, advertisements ran on the third cover page of major magazines; beginning in 1916, full-page color advertisements in women's magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal. The first ever recipe to be included in advertising copy occurred in the December, 1916 edition of Ladies' Home Journal. By the mid-1920s, advertisements routinely featured product descriptions, recipes, cookbook offers, and a write-in column hosted by spokescharacter Mary Hale Martin (pseudonym of Dorothy Knight, head of Libby's Domestic Science Department). The evaporated milk campaign created the slogan "Milk that Good Cooks Use" and featured recipes by prominent chefs and other "good cooks" that called for Libby milk. Libby moved its canned meats account to Tatham-Laird in 1951 over concerns of a conflict with JWT's work for Oscar Mayer.
JWT acquired the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad account in 1899, shortly after the formation of the Interstate Commerce Commission and the regulation of rail rates and interstate traffic. Initially, JWT placed advertisements encouraging tourism in newspapers that were "off-line," that is in cities not served by the railroad. Beginning in 1923, JWT added "on-line" advertising in localities along the rail route. The Burlington line was jointly owned by Northern Pacific and Great Northern railroads, and the three lines participated in a joint campaign that ran from around 1922 through 1926. The campaign had two main themes: to encourage tourism in the western U.S., especially to the great national parks such as Yellowstone, and to use the three rail lines to do it. There was also a joint campaign to encourage travel and development, as well as to educate readers about the people, culture and resources of the Pacific Northwest.
J. Walter Thompson became what is believed to be the first international advertising agency with the opening of the London branch office in 1899. The office initially provided limited services to client operations in Europe. Tom Rayfield, in his unofficial history "50 in 40" described operations as a "sales broker for the American offices who hoped to get business from European clients who wanted to sell in the States." A full-service, fully staffed office was opened in 1916, but closed the following year due to the war. It reopened in 1919. The office was originally located at 33 Bedford Street; it later moved to the Bush House in 1924 and then to 40 Berkeley Square in 1945.
Horlick's was one of the main producers of packaged malted products. JWT was the first agency employed by the company, placing the first advertisements in 1900. Early campaigns ran in magazines and "ladies' papers" and featured historical themes. Around 1910, advertising shifted to newspaper "small space" advertisements of one or two column inches, using the slogan "Insist on Horlick's--The Original." By 1924 larger advertisements, up to a full page, were used, but around 1926 advertising reverted to smaller formats.
Thompson acquired the Lever Brothers (later Unilever) advertising account for Lifebuoy soap in 1902 and kept it until 1920 when the agency resigned over a conflict with the Woodbury account. JWT was assigned the account for Lux Flakes in 1916. Lux Flakes was originally introduced in England where it was marketed primarily for washing woolens. Helen Lansdowne Resor saw a larger market in the U.S. for washing finer fabrics such as stockings, which became a new point of emphasis in the advertisements. Sales rose rapidly, from 10,000 cases sold in 1915 to over a million by 1919. JWT oversaw the launch and marketing of a number of Lever products, including Lux soap (1925), Lux liquid (1953), Stripe toothpaste (1956), Handy Andy (1961), Mrs. Butterworth syrup (1961) and Lever 2000 soap (1999). During WWII JWT created a series of ads for Lux Toilet Soap featuring film stars Rita Hayworth and Marlene Dietrich. For Mrs. Butterworth, JWT Copy Group Head Helen Klintrup devised the name which emphasized butter added to the syrup recipe as well as a distinctive bottle shaped like a matronly woman. The Lux Radio Theatre (1934-on) was one of the most popular programs of its time. The agency still retains a portion of Unilever advertising, making it the second oldest and longest continuing advertising relationship in the industry, surpassed only by Lowe + Partners' relationship, also with Unilever which dates from 1899.
Humphrey O'Sullivan invented the rubber shoe heel. JWT was the first agency he employed, and the first challenge was to create a wholly new market, and to show the benefits of rubber heels over the more traditional leather heels. Initial campaign copy sought to introduce a new product and to educate the public as to the heels' advantages and economy. In 1913, a new campaign was based around the theme of "fatigue" to show how the shock absorption qualities of rubber heels could ease the stress of modern life by protecting people from the strain of walking on hard floors and pavement. Sales were helped by the leather shortage during World War I. One interesting campaign anecdote arose from O'Sullivan's experience in Great Britain. There, the campaign stressed economy but the "fatigue" theme was not employed, the effect of which was to identify rubber soles there with the lower classes, while the upper classes continued to prefer leather heels.
Howard Kohl (1891-1993) is best known as Stanley Resor's closest advisor and all-around corporate troubleshooter, and the person with the longest tenure in JWT history. His 58-year career began when James Walter Thompson hired the 15-year old youth as an errand boy. Following stints in the Mechanical Production, Traffic, Art and Copy departments, Kohl was named Company Secretary in 1926. He served as Trustee of the Profit-Sharing Plan (1942-); member of the Finance Committee (1946-); Director (1950-); Vice President (1954-); and Executive Vice President (1961-). He retired in 1964.
Stanley Burnet Resor (1879-1962), a salesman at Procter & Gamble's house agency Procter & Collier, was hired along with his brother Walter to open a Cincinnati Office of JWT and served as manager. In 1916 Resor and a group of investors bought the agency from Mr. Thompson, and managed the agency as president and chairman until his retirement in 1961. Resor's legacy to JWT included a commitment to a scientific approach to advertising and the importance of research; and a strong sense of professional ethics and a policy of refusing to produce speculative work for prospective clients. Resor was also instrumental in the formation of the American Association of advertising Agencies and the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
Helen Lansdowne Resor (1886-1964) left the Procter & Collier agency along with Stanley Resor to establish JWT's Cincinnati Office. She worked there as a copywriter until 1911 when she moved to the New York office. Helen and Stanley Resor married in 1917. She is credited as a pioneer in the idea of believable copy and of emotional appeals in advertising, and an early advocate of women in the advertising profession. She worked at JWT until 1958. Ms. Resor was involved in the launch of several important brands: Crisco, Lux Flakes, Yuban coffee, and Cutex. She was also an active advocate for women's suffrage and Planned Parenthood.
JWT placed the first advertisements for Irving Trust, a commercial bank founded in 1851 and named for then-popular author Washington Irving, in 1909. Through the 1920s advertising was limited to newspapers and trade publications. In 1958 JWT produced the first television campaign for the bank as the bank began to build up its presence in the consumer or personal banking business. Notable campaigns include pop art executions in the 1960s with work from contemporary artists such as Jacqui Morgan; whimsical treatments of banking such as the "Personal Banker" series in the late 1970s. In 1988 Irving Trust was acquired by the Bank of New York. thus ending JWT's association.
JWT opened an office in Detroit in 1909, placing advertisements for a number of bicycle and automobile manufacturers, including Ford from 1910-1912. The office closed in 1920, but after JWT was awarded the domestic advertising account for Ford, the office reopened in 1944. Initially the office served as merely the point of contact with Ford, but in 1948 the office began to offer a full range of advertising services. Also in 1948, Norman Strouse arrived to head the office. Around 1958 Detroit offered the agency's first sales promotion and merchandising group. The Car Care Council was formed in 1968 to promote the automotive aftermarket industry. The JWT Performance Group was established in 1983 to help companies establish a presence in the auto racing world. JWT Detroit also created the largest local spot buying program in the United States. Other clients served by the Detroit Office include Stroh Brewing, Champion Spark Plug, Bosch, Domino's Pizza, White Castle, International Banana Association, Shell and Siemens. The Detroit Office was instrumental, along with Henry Ford II and heads of other Detroit automakers, in the creation of the United Foundation, which grew to become one of the largest Community Chest organizations in the U.S. Detroit has been active in a number of other public service organizations, including the Detroit Symphony, Multiple Sclerosis Society and Oakland Family Services.
The original Aunt Jemima was Mrs. Nancy Green, a former slave hired by the Davis Milling Company as a living trademark to promote their self-rising pancake mix. The Aunt Jemima name is said to have come from a character in a vaudeville song. JWT acquired the account in 1909, mainly placing advertisements in newspapers and producing out-of-home items such as bus cards and painted signs. JWT convinced Davis to change the company name to Aunt Jemima Mills in 1914 in order to strengthen the brand identity. Around this time JWT started placing advertisements in women's and family-oriented magazines. In 1916 the illustrator Arthur Burdett Frost was commissioned to produce a painting of Green as Aunt Jemima and the image helped elevate the brand to iconic status. JWT's P.C. Harper in his case history of Aunt Jemima noted that the brand identity was "accomplished through the dramatization of the story of the Aunt Jemima recipe and Aunt Jemima herself. It was by adopting the appeal that we were able to draw upon the full resources of romance and association which lay back of the product: the appeal and glamour of the old south." The brand was acquired by the Quaker Oats Company in 1925, and the advertising focused on convenience of use, and was one of the first campaigns to utilize photography for added realism.
J. Walter Thompson was an avid yachtsman and a member of the New York Yacht Club. In 1910, he commissioned noted maritime painter James Gale Tyler (d. 1931) to create a portrait of Thompson in his Commodore's uniform. The striking image has long served as a symbol of the agency, frequently displayed and sometimes serving as a gently humorous backdrop for JWT's clients.
The Andrew Jergens Company purchased the rights to the Woodbury soap brand in 1901, and awarded the advertising account to JWT in 1910 and was handled by the Cincinatti Office. Early advertisements emphasized benefits from use and positioned the soap as a big seller. Around 1914 advertising switched to emphasize sentimentality, through the Helen Lansdowne-created "A Skin You Love to Touch" frequently cited as the first use of emotional appeal in advertising. James Webb Young later related that the phrase originally appeared within the text of some copy written by Ms. Lansdowne before she transferred to the New York Office in 1911. Young wrote that he thought it should become the theme of all advertising efforts and it became a standard feature of Woodbury Soap promotions in advertisements, packaging and printed booklets. a Business Extension Department report praised the campaign for "selling masculine admiration and feminine envy as much as the product." Subsequent campaigns through the 1920s included group testimonials, promotional prints of artwork used in advertisements, and a "National Beauty Survey" contest where photo submissions were judged by a celebrity panel that included John Barrymore, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr. JWT also won the Woodbury Cold Cream account in 1920 but lost it in 1927 over a conflict with the account for Pond's creams. Jergens Hand Lotion began as Jergens Benzoin and Almond Lotion Compound in 1900. JWT produced the lotion's first national magazine campaign in 1922; research the following year revealed that nearly 3 out of 4 consumers used the lotion for their hands, which prompted the name change and refocused the advertising to emphasize Jergens as a hand lotion. During the 1930s Jergens sponsored Walter Winchell's radio show, which signed off "with lotions of love." A movie star testimonial campaign ran until the end of the 1930s.
James Webb Young (1886-1973) began his career with J. Walter Thompson as a copywriter in the Cincinnati Office. His 1919 copy for an Odorono print advertisement, "Within the Curve of a Woman's Arm," is considered a pioneering use of the fear of social ostracism to promote product use. Young is credited as a key figure in JWT's international expansion during the 1920s. He retired twice from JWT (1928 and 1964) and served much of the period in between retirements as a consultant to the agency. His influential book "A Technique for Producing Ideas" was published in 1940, and remains in print today.
Odorono was initially invented by a Cincinnati doctor, A.D. Murphey, for use by area surgeons concerned about perspiring during operations. Murphey's daughter Edna tried to sell the product through drug stores, and when she failed, opened a business in her home. Originally Edna produced her own advertisements, but as sales slowly increased she sought the help of JWT, who acquired the account in 1914 and managed it through the Cincinnati Office with and initial budget of $14,000. The main marketing challenge lay in proving to women that the product was not only safe but necessary. JWT investigation revealed that 59% of women polled used no type of deodorant, and 47% felt they did not need any. The strategy evolved to try to make women suspect they might be offending others by not using deodorant, and culminated in James Webb Young's copy, "Within the Curve of a Woman's Arm," which came to be considered one of the finest advertisements of the 20th century. Later campaigns featured the fictitious character Ruth Miller. Sales of Odorono grew nearly tenfold in the first ten years JWT held the account, from $42,850 in 1914 to nearly $400,000 by 1924.
Thompson established what is thought to be the first research department in the advertising industry. JWT had published Population and Its Distribution, a landmark analysis of the 1910 U.S. Census, in 1912, and followed with a study of urban and rural markets, Retail Shopping Areas, in 1924 under the direction of Paul Cherington. JWT long held a reputation for its market research and consumer psychology, from canvassing neighborhoods and department stores to analyzing census data, a reputation later immortalized in a New Yorker cartoon. Research remained a central focus at JWT, which employed a number of influential and respected academics and industry market researchers, including John B. Watson, Ernest Dichter, Vergil Reed, Alvin Achenbaum and Rena Bartos.
Ruth Waldo (1886-1975) was the first woman to serve as Vice President at JWT. She joined JWT in 1915 as a copywriter. She transferred to the London Office in 1922 as head of the Copy Department there. She served as head of the Women's Editorial Group in 1930 and as Vice President 1944-1960. In 1962, Waldo was honored by Adelphi College, her alma mater, which named a dormitory, Waldo Hall. Widely respected for her leadership skills, she was also noted as a copywriter, producing the slogan "She's Lovely! She's Engaged! She Uses Pond's!" for Chesebrough-Pond's long-running testimonial campaign.
Northam Warren (d. 1962) gave the brand name "Cutex" to a liquid cuticle remover commonly used by foot specialists and marketed it as a home-use product. JWT was the first agency employed by Warren, whose marketing idea was that hand and foot grooming should not be limited to upper-class women, but should be enjoyed at home by all women. Early on, Warren marketed only the cuticle remover, but later extended the product line to include nail polish, rouge and other manicuring items. Initial advertising strategy focused on educating women on grooming and a better way to manicure nails. JWT designed distinctive black and pink packaging, thought to be the first use of black in product packaging for popular consumer goods. Later campaigns sought to encourage manicuring through a science-based "reason why" approach, as well as exemplar-based copy featuring actresses, celdebrities and a fictional character, Dr. Murray. JWT briefly lost the account in 1923 but regained it the following year.
A hallmark of JWT advertising practice has been its systematic approach to account planning and management. Beginning around 1916, JWT developed a simple mnemonic called the T-Square, a printed or metal draftsman's t-square that bore five key questions to guide all efforts toward designing and executing an account strategy: "What are we selling? To whom are we selling? Where are we selling? When are we Selling? How are we selling?" In the 1920s, account planning was further systematized with the Plan and Data Form, which spelled out the market situation, consumer base and advertising strategy. These two procedures guided account management for half a century, until the London Office developed what came to be known as the T-Plan. The T-Plan began with an intensive situation analysis that took into account not only the position of the product in the market, but also that of competing products, and undertook a much finer-grained analysis of the consumer base. This information drove actions by two different parties within JWT: the Target Planning Team working on the account, and the Strategy Review Board, a management oversight committee who reviewed and made recommendations of how a campaign should progress. The turbulent years of the mid-1980s saw the development of the Thompson Way, launched in 1987, a set of account management tools intended to reinforce JWT's core mission "to deliver greater value from their advertising than any other agency." In 1996, a new version, called Thompson Total Branding, emerged, that incorporated market assessments, product positioning, target audience and brand vision into a comprehensive and integrated brand communications strategy. Thompson Total Branding also sought to reposition the entire agency, "to transform the world's first advertising agency into...the world's first global brand communications agency" as an early internal presentation put it. The following year, 1997, JWT launched Thompson Total Targeting, which integrated brand communications with marketing database analysis.
While not the first agency to employ photography in advertising, JWT was an early adopter of the medium and put it to innovative use with some of the most prominent photographers of their time, including Lejaren Hiller, Louise Dahl-Wolf, Edward Steichen and Richard Avedon. The London Office especially was involved in sorting out problems with photographic layout, lighting and view angles that were unique to advertising. George Butler in his memoir "Bush House, Berlin and Berkeley Square" relates the challenges involved in getting overhead shots (never undertaken before) of foods, and working out lighting issues so that images could be reproduced in newspapers. He wrote: "Shaw Wildman saw that nobody in photography outside the firm grasped what advertising needed or what the newspapers could print. And so he bought a camera and in a very short time, without any formal relationship with Thompsons, he'd set up a studio in Gordon Square and was doing most of our photographs. He'd perfected a type of lighting which was 80 percent light tones with just some dark accents, which no other photographer had bothered to sort out, so that it wouldn't collect too much ink and it would print as well as possible in the newspaper." Some of JWT's innovative uses of photography in advertising included added realism (such as for Swift in the 1910s and Jergens around 1925); dramatic effect, as featured in advertisements for Corning's Conaphore automobile lights beginning in 1917; photojournalistic montages like the execution for Maxwell House in 1927; photomicrographs showing the chemical action of baking powder beginning in 1930; and for product demonstration sequences for Ponds in 1932.
JWT held the account for Victrola (acquired by RCA in 1929) 1917-1918. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was established as a subsidiary of General Electric in 1919 and became an independent company in 1930. JWT was awarded the RCA account in 1943, lost it in 1953 and regained the account in 1960. JWT managed RCA's corporate advertising, the RCA Record Club direct marketing campaign (1963-on) and in 1964 launched a massive retail newspaper campaign featuring a multi-page Sunday Supplement entitled "RCA Victor Week." The campaign ran in over 200 newspapers and reached some 53 million consumers with 11,000 retail dealers named. Up to 75 consumer products were included in the 4-color supplements.
John Reber (1893-1955) was one of the first advertising executives to see the possibilities of radio and television as media of communications. Variety once called Reber "the Ziegfeld of Radio" for his efforts to promote the medium. He joined JWT in 1917, but soon left for service during World War I. After the war, Reber managed the London Office for three years before returning to the United States to head the new Radio Department. Later Reber would head the Television Department. He was promoted to Vice President in 1929, and elected to the Board of Directors in 1933. In 1958 Reber was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame.
By the 1920s Penick & Ford had become one of the largest sugar processors in the world. JWT managed advertising campaigns primarily for two products in the Brer Rabbit brand line: molasses and cane syrup. Molasses was popular mainly in northern states where it saw specialized use as a spread for children and as an ingredient in baked goods like gingerbread. JWT's campaign in that region emphasized advertisementditional used for molasses in cooking. In the southern states, by contrast, cane syrup was more popular, but there it was a household staple with many uses. JWT's southern campaign focused on positioning the Brer Rabbit brand as the better choice.
JWT won the Fleischmann's Yeast account in 1920. At that time, Fleischmann had been searching for alternative uses for baker's yeast, having noted a general decline in home baking, a victim of modern urban lifestyles and the availability of commercial baked goods. The company had tried to promote yeast as a health supplement with mixed results, partly due to the growing popularity of vitamin supplements. Initially, JWT continued the two-prong "yeast for health/yeast for bread" strategy that addressed both the general benefits of yeast but also the role of yeast in treating specific ailments and skin conditions. During the mid-1920s Fleischmann began also marketing yeast as a supplement for farm animals, and positioned yeast as an ally in the contemporary colon health fad. Campaigns also featured health contests, recipe books and testimonials from ordinary consumers whose photographs eventually became featured in the print advertisements. Fleischmann was additionally an early sponsor of radio, including the popular program with Rudy Vallee as host. In 1937 the Fleischmann program became the first commercial radio program sent by shortwave to the United States when it was broadcast for two weeks from London. In 1955 JWT undertook a Consumer Panel study for Fleischmann, the first ever national survey of baked goods purchases.
The agency was also a pioneer in seeking top academics to work for the agency. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (BS 1902, MA 1908), Cherington was one of the original faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, and later the first president of the American Marketing Association. He directed research at JWT from 1922-1931.
Kraft Foods has evolved through nearly 150 years of name changes: Phenix Cheese Company (to 1929), Kraft-Phenix Cheese (1929-1940), Kraft Cheese (1940-1945) and Kraft Foods since 1945. In 1922 JWT won the Phenix Cheese account, producing advertising for the firm's two main product lines, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Phenix Club cheeses. The Kraft account was transferred to the Chicago Office in 1929, the same year that Kraft's first radio program, "Woman's Magazine of the Air" appeared. JWT won the account for Velveeta, first introduced in Canada in 1925, in 1930. JWT helped launch Miracle Whip, originally intended as a salad dressing, in 1933. Also in 1933, a new radio show, The Kraft Program, debuted. Its name changed to Kraft Music Hall in 1934.
A campaign for Pond's facial creams designed by Helen Landsdowne Resor reached a new level of sophistication for testimonial advertising. Endorsements were obtained from European royalty, socialites, and debutants, photographed by some of the most prominent photographers of the day, including Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton and Richard Avedon. The campaign ran for nearly 40 years.
The Eveready Hour, considered to be the first fully sponsored radio broadcast series, was produced and aired by JWT in 1923. It featured Rudy Vallee as emcee and was sponsored by Standard Brands (Chase & Sanborn, Fleischmann's Yeast, Tenderleaf Tea, Royal Baking Powder and Gelatin). In 1934 JWT opened an office in Hollywood which became the first agency radio production facility, responsible for creating a number of programs including the Chase & Sanborn Coffee Hour, Lux Radio Theatre and Kraft Music Hall.
JWT acquired the magazine advertising account for Royal Baking Powder in 1923. The campaign grew to include not only advertisements but also coupons and cookbooks. Campaign themes included baking biscuits for dinner, testimonials from dieticians and other medical professionals, and the superiority of cream of tartar over alum or phosphate-based baking powders. Later, JWT added the accounts for Royal's line of gelatin and pudding desserts. Royal Baking Powder and the Fleischmann companies merged in 1929 to form Standard Brands, and JWT continued representing products from both predecessor firms. Innovations in advertising included the first use of photomicrography to depict the leavening action of baking powder. advertising during the Depression emphasized class appeal and home economies. Royal Baking Powder sponsored several radio programs, including the Ida Bailey Allen Program (1928-1930) and the Martha Deane Participation (1936-1937). In 1974 JWT helped launch Egg Beaters, a cholesterol-free egg substitute. In 1980 the advertising account for Pinata Foods was awarded to JWT subsidiary Lansdowne Advertising.
French's version of yellow mustard debuted in 1904 but was not advertised until the 1920s. The company expanded over time to produce a wide range of condiments, sauces, spices and prepared foods. JWT represented several French's product lines which occasionally came in conflict with similar lines produced by Kraft, the flagship client of the Chicago Office.
Samuel William Meek (1895-1981), a Yale graduate and decorated World War I veteran, joined JWT in 1925 as manager of the London Office. Meek was instrumental in expanding JWT into a global corporation, after the acquisition of General Motors' export account in 1927. Under Meek's supervision, JWT opened offices across the world, at first to service General Motors, but most offices succeeded in establishing themselves as full-service branches of JWT, and made JWT the first global advertising agency.
JWT first acquired an advertising account for Scott Paper in 1927, to produce national campaigns for ScotTissue and Waldorf brand toilet tissue. Norman Strouse remarked about a "changing of habits" of American consumers in the early 20th century with the adoption and growing popularity of "sanitary papers" as toilet tissue was initially called. Consumer fondness for disposable paper products continued to grow over the years. JWT helped launch a number of products for Scott: ScotTowels paper towels (1931), Scotties facial tissue (1945), Cut-Rite wax paper (1945), Scotkins table napkins (1953), Scott Family Napkins (1957), Cut-Rite plastic wrap and aluminum foil (1962) as well as Scott's line of placemats and paper cups (1964). JWT lost the Scott account in 1989 but in 1994 was awarded the account for Scott's bath and facial tissue. In 1995 JWT established "Scott Central" at the New York Office to coordinate global communications.
JWT acquired the advertising account for the General Motors Export Corporation and over the next few years opened offices throughout the world--wherever General Motors had a presence--to service the account. The expansion led to JWT becoming the first global advertising agency. Sam Meek was instrumental in much of the expansion. In his memoir London copy writer George Butler wrote that "around Christmas time  we heard that [Sam Meeks] and others in New York had landed the General Motors account. All over the world, wherever there was a major General Motors operation, there was to be a JWT office, and this was a great opportunity for Thompsons to found a world-wide network of branches and make them pay from the start.. It was an amazing, and, looking back, a pretty risky thing to do." In 1973 international billings surpassed U.S. billings for the first time. Currently JWT operates from "over 200 offices in over 90 countries" according to its website.
Stouffer was originally a chain of family-style restaurants founded in 1924 in Cleveland, eventually growing to become the third largest restaurant chain in the U.S.. JWT represented the account beginnning in 1929, mainly through newspaper advertisements in the areas served by the restaurants. Around 1954 Stouffer began to produce a line of frozen foods based on their restaurant menus. advertising for "Stouffer Meal-Planned Foods" commenced in Sunday newspapers in November 1958. Marketing strategy revolved around the them of "educate the housewife" on the incorporation of frozen foods in family meals, through product demonstrations, suggested menus, and restaurant tie-in promotions. Strategic difference between Stouffer and JWT led to the termination of the account.
Chase & Sanborn coffee was acquired by Royal Baking Powder in 1929, just prior to the merger with Fleischmann that created Standard Brands. JWT represented Chase & Sanborn from 1929-1949 before losing the account, but regained it in 1959. JWT is credited with creating the concept of "dated coffee" to gain a marketing edge, which led to the general practice of stressing freshness in coffee products. Chase & Sanborn was active in broadcast media, sponsoring a number of radio (Chase & Sanborn Hour, 1929-1937; Chase & Sanborn Radio Show, 1937-1940s) and television (Chase & Sanborn Television Show, beginning in 1946) programs. JWT helped launch Instant Chase & Sanborn in 1946, and an electric-perk version in 1968. In 1960 the designer and artist Saul Bass (who produced the graphics for the movies "Vertigo" and "The Man with the Golden Arm") produced a series of commercials for the coffee brand. With the merger of Standard Brands and Nabisco in 1981, the Chase & Sanborn brand was sold to General Coffee.
A commonly encountered claim states that the grilled cheese sandwich was invented by JWT Chicago staff for its client Kraft around 1930. But did that really happen? It is hard to say for certain. JWT acquired the Phenix Cheese account in 1922; at that time Phenix and Kraft were competitors. Kraft and Phenix merged in 1929 and JWT assumed advertising responsibilities for the combined companies. As for the grilled cheese sandwich, rarebits and other toasted cheese and bread combinations had been around for centuries. The grilled ham-and-cheese croquet monsieur debuted in 1910. At least as far back as 1921, Kraft featured a toasted cheese sandwich in its cookbooks. The earliest use of the word "grilled" in a Kraft advertisement that the Hartman Center has been able to find appears in a trade advertisement from 1931, promoting the "ever popular grilled cheese sandwich" (as if it already existed in common practice) in a tie-in with the Griswold griddles marketed to restaurants. The earliest description of a "grilled" sandwich in Hartman Center collections seems to be from a 1935 cookbook for Pabst-ett, a processed cheese brand similar to Velveeta which Kraft acquired after legal wrangling during Prohibition. At that time, Pabst-ett was represented by the Needham agency. Thus, while it may be questionable whether JWT actually invented the term and practice of the grilled cheese sandwich, the agency through its long association with Kraft played a large role in popularizing toasted cheese sandwiches and in developing their association as a quintessentially American food.
The "Corner curl" logo was developed by JWT in 1942 and remained in use until 1972. Wartime advertisements included "Send Snapshots to Servicemen" (1943). In 1963 the campaign for Kodak's Instamatic camera became the first simultaneous global launch of a consumer product. JWT also participated in the launch of Kodak's Brownie Movie Camera (1957), Super-8 sound-capable home movie systems (1974), office copier systems (1976), and Disc Camera (1982). Notable campaigns include "Would You Risk This Moment on Anything Less than Kodak Film?" by Granger Tripp (1973); the Clio-winning "Memories" commercials (1974); and "Times of Your Life" with lyrics by JWT copywriter Bill Lane, which won a RIAA Gold Record when recorded as a single by Paul Anka.