J. Walter Thompson
|Founded||New York City, New York, United States (1864)|
|Founder||William James Carlton|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, United States|
Number of employees
|10,000 (January 2015)|
J. Walter Thompson is a global marketing communications brand headquartered in New York. The agency has more than 200 offices in over 90 countries. With a network of nearly 10,000 marketers, it has an influential presence in the global advertising sector.
As the fourth-largest agency network in the world, J. Walter Thompson is one of the key subsidiaries of the WPP Group (NASDAQ:WPPGY).
In 1864, the Carlton & Smith agency opened its doors, becoming one of the first known advertising agencies in the United States. The agency would later be renamed to J. Walter Thompson when its founder, James Walter Thompson, purchased the agency for $500, along with the furniture for an additional $800, in 1878.
James Walter Thompson, who was serving as a U.S. Marine, was first employed by Carlton & Smith to sell space in religious publications. Under Thompson’s leadership, the J. Walter Thompson agency became the exclusive buyer of advertising space in many American magazines and periodicals. By 1889, 80 percent of the advertising in the United States was placed through J. Walter Thompson.
With the agency’s success came its expansion. J. Walter Thompson became the first American agency to expand internationally with the opening of J. Walter Thompson London in 1899. Along with London, J. Walter Thompson has expanded across the globe, being one of the first American agencies in Egypt, South Africa and Asia.
Since its inception, the agency has been a pioneer in the industry. It was among the first agencies to employ writers and artists to create interesting advertisements for their clients, replacing the standard ads created by in-house businesses. J. Walter Thompson was also the first agency to provide a wide range of advertising services to clients, including, copy, layout, package design, trademark development and rudimentary market research. Many of these methods can be seen in notable work the agency has produced, including, work for Kraft Cheese that resulted in the creation of the grilled-cheese sandwich, a campaign for Swift & Co. that added measurements to sticks of butter, the Toys R Us Kid slogan and jingle, De Beer’s diamond ads (A Diamond is Forever) and the “I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner” campaign.
J. Walter Thompson is credited with hiring the first female copywriter Helen Lansdowne Resor. While there, she pioneered ideas like, celebrity testimonials, sex appeal and was responsible for developing the agency’s reputation as an agency where bright young women could succeed. Proving this, Lansdowne would go on to become the first creative director in the industry. To honor this legacy, in 2014 J. Walter Thompson announced a $250,000 scholarship opportunity called the Helen Lansdowne Resor Scholarship. It will assist and promote talented female creative advertising students who aspire to join the ranks of creative leadership.
In 1987, J. Walter Thompson was acquired by the WPP Group. In 2005, the agency was rebranded by shortening J. Walter Thompson to JWT, but in 2014, the agency returned to the name J. Walter Thompson during its 150th anniversary.
In celebration of its 150th anniversary, the agency launched an interactive historical timeline.
Offices and Agencies
J. Walter Thompson’s network has nearly 10,000 employees in more than 200 offices in over 90 countries, who serve over 1,200 clients.
In 2015, J. Walter Thompson announced the launch of Mirum, a global company uniting 11 digital agencies spanning 17 countries and 40 offices. The agencies that merged include, Digitaria, XM, CASA, ActivearkJWT, Twist Image, Lunchbox, i-Cherry, HeathWallace, Quirk, Clarus and X-Prime.
Key clients include:
- Air Canada
- Johnson & Johnson
- Royal Caribbean
- Tim Horton's
- United States Marine Corps
- Woodbury Soap, "A skin you love to touch" (1911)
- Ford, “There’s a Ford in your future” (1945)
- United States Marine Corps, "The Few. The Proud. The Marines." (1947)
- Oscar Mayer, “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner” (1962)
- Oscar Mayer, "The Bologna Song" (1962)
- 7UP, "The Uncola" (1967)
- Toys R Us, “I don’t want to grow up” (1982)
- Ford Global Anthem (1999)
- The Times of India, "Lead India"; won a Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival (2008).
- Samsonite "Heaven and Hell"; JWT Shanghai won a Grand Prix at Cannes (2011).
- Banco Popular, "The Most Popular Song"; JWT Puerto Rico won the Grand Prix for PR at Cannes. (2012)
- Kit Kat, “Kit Kat into space” (2012)
- Kit Kat, “Android KitKat” (2014)
Notable people who worked at JWT
- Stanley Resor
- James Webb Young
- Martin Amis
- Julie Christie
- Bryce Courtenay
- Ken Done
- Judith Durham
- Athol Guy
- H. R. Haldeman
- Adrian Lyne
- Gabriel García Márquez 
- Alan Parker
- James Patterson
- Glenn Slater
- John B. Watson
- Fay Weldon
- Josh Kilmer-Purcell
- Caroline R. Jones
In popular culture
- 1930: JWT invents the grilled cheese for Kraft.
- 1930s: JWT sells Kellogg’s Rice Krispies with “Snap, Crackle and Pop”.
- 1931: Introduced the first paper towel for Scott Paper.
- 1933: Introduced Kraft Miracle Whip.
- 1939: Produced the first-ever TV program for Libby, McNeill & Libby.
- 1962: JWT creates “The Bologna Song” and the "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner" song for Oscar Mayer.
- 1964: Introduced the Ford Mustang.
- 1972: JWT creates the Andrex Puppy.
- 1981 J. Walter Thompson uses Sarah Michelle Gellar in controversial Burger King ad that criticized McDonald's.
- 1982: J. Walter Thompson creates Toys R Us, “I don’t want to grow up” campaign
- 2000: Breaks the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest billboard.
- 2012: Kit Kat in space campaign by JWT London.
- 2014: The TV Show MadMen referenced J. Walter Thompson and two of its clients
- Company Profile - J. Walter Thompson. (2015, January 31). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.wpp.com/wpp/companies/j-walter-thompson/
- Geisst, C. (2006). J. In Encyclopedia of American business history (p. 232). New York: Facts On File
- J. Walter Thompson Co. (2015). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/298581/J-Walter-Thompson-Co
- Rick, C. (2014, December 20). J. Walter Thompson Company. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://colab-sbx-140.oit.duke.edu/sites/timelines/jwt.php
- Applegate, E. (2012). Stanley B. Resor and the J. Walter Thompson Company: 1908-1961. In The rise of advertising in the United States: A history of innovation to 1960 (p. 134). Lanham: Scarecrow Press
- The J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT), London, Advertising Agency Client Account Files and Other Office Papers. (1983, June 10). Retrieved February 15, 2015, from http://www.hatads.org.uk/catalogue/record/8aa165f2-9c53-4485-bc1c-f482ae16d6aa
- Ciochetto, L. (2011). China. In Globalisation and advertising in emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, and China (p. 95). London: Routledge
- J. Walter Thompson Co. (2003, September 15). Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://adage.com/article/adage-encyclopedia/j-walter-thompson/98904/
- After 150 Years of Iconic Ads, Agency Eyes Innovation. (2014, December 23). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/j-walter-thompson-agency-jwt-celebrates-150-years-of-advertisements/
- Helen Lansdowne Resor. (1967, January 1). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://advertisinghall.org/members/member_bio.php?memid=774
- Helen Lansdowne Resor Scholarship. (2014, December 3). Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.aaaa.org/careers/scholarships/Pages/HelenLansdowneResorScholarship.aspx
- Elliott, S. (2014, April 14). JWT to Bring Back the Classic J. Walter Thompson Name. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/15/business/media/jwt-to-bring-back-the-classic-j-walter-thompson-name.html?_r=2
- Introducing Mirum: A Modern Global Company. (2015, February 5). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150129006715/en/Introducing-Mirum-Modern-Global-Company#.VOY13CdEnwU
- Agency Clients - J. Walter Thompson. (2011, January 1). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.adforum.com/agency/8/clients/page-2/j-walter-thompson-new-york
- "Model Interpretation". Historymatters.gmu.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "JWT: lessons from the Commodore". campaign live. Retrieved 2015-02-10.
- "Oscar Mayer Wiener Song". Wisconsinhistory.org. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Ad Age Advertising Century: Top 100 Advertising Campaigns | Special: The Advertising Century". Advertising Age. 1999-03-29. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- N Shatrujeet, Jun 22, 2008, 12.17am IST (2008-06-22). "Now, Lead India wins Integrated Lion at Cannes". Times Of India. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, 'The Most Popular Song' | Inspiration | Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity". Canneslions.com. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- James Webb Young. (1974, January 1). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://advertisinghall.org/members/member_bio.php?memid=826&uflag=y&uyear=
- "CVC. Gabriel Garcνa Mαrquez. Cronologνa". Cvc.cervantes.es. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "James Patterson Inc". New York Times. 20 January 2010.
- brandrepublic.com, 26 July 2002, 08:00AM (2002-07-26). "Superbrands case studies: J Walter Thompson - Brand Republic News". PR Week. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Caroline Jones, 59, Founder Of Black-Run Ad Companies". The New York Times. 8 July 2001.
- "Women to Watch: Daiga Atvara, JWT's Digitaria | Special Report: Women to Watch - Advertising Age". Adage.com. 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Guide to the J. Walter Thompson Company. Domestic Advertisements Collection, 1875-2001 and undated, bulk 1920s-1990s". Duke University Libraries.
- Published: September 15, 2003 (2003-09-15). "J. Walter Thompson Co. | AdAge Encyclopedia of Advertising". Advertising Age. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Oscar Mayer Foods Corp. | AdAge Encyclopedia of Advertising -". Advertising Age. 2003-09-15. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "1964 1/2 Ford Mustang - By Design -". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Andrex lines up celebratory campaign as mascot puppy turns 40". Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar: The innocent years. (2007, November 15). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.afterellen.com/tv/26619-sarah-michelle-gellar-the-innocent-years
- Author* (2012-10-15). "Kit Kat Goes to Space | JWT Blog". Jwt.com. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- Davis, Rhiannon, “Negotiating Local and Global Knowledge and History: J. Walter Thompson around the Globe, 1928–1960,” Journal of Australian Studies 36 (no. 1, 2012), 81–97.
- Official website
- J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT) Collections in the Hartman Center at Duke University