J. Walter Thompson

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For the businessman, see James Walter Thompson.
J. Walter Thompson
Traded as
Industry Advertising
Predecessor JWT
Founded New York, New York, U.S. (1864 (1864))
Founder William James Carlton
Headquarters New York, New York, U.S.
Area served
Key people
  • Tamara Ingram, CEO
  • Matt Eastwood, CCO
Services Creative, Digital, Full Service, Global, Interactive, Market Research, Marketing, Planning, Research, Specialized Communications, Strategic Communications, Total Branding Solutions Across all Communication, Trendspotting
Number of employees
10,000 (January 2015)[1]
Parent WPP plc
Website www.jwt.com

J. Walter Thompson is an international advertising agency headquartered in New York. It 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.[2]

As the fourth-largest agency network in the world, J. Walter Thompson is one of the key subsidiaries of the WPP Group (NASDAQ:WPPGY).


J. Walter Thompson traces its origins to the Carlton & Smith agency, which opened its doors in 1864, one of the first known advertising agencies in the United States.[3] Founder William James Carlton started selling advertising space in religious magazines. Almost nothing is known about the Smith partner. In 1868, Carlton hired Thompson as a bookkeeper. Eventually Thompson found that soliciting and sales were much more profitable and he became a very effective salesman for the small company. In 1877, Thompson bought the agency for $500 and renamed it J. Walter Thompson Company. Notably, Thompson paid $800 for the Carlton and Smith furniture in the same transaction.[4]

Thompson, who was serving as a U.S. Marine, had first been employed by Carlton & Smith to sell space in religious publications.[4] Under his leadership, the agency became the exclusive buyer of advertising space in many American magazines and periodicals.[3] By 1889, 80 percent of the advertising in the United States was placed through J. Walter Thompson.[5]

Expansion followed. J. Walter Thompson became the first American agency to expand internationally with the opening of J. Walter Thompson London in 1899.[6] The business subsequently expanded across the globe, being one of the first American agencies in Egypt, South Africa and Asia.[7]

J. Walter Thomson 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.[8] It 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.[8] 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 Beers diamond ads (A Diamond is Forever) and the "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner" campaign.[9]

The agency is credited with hiring the first female copywriter, Helen Lansdowne Resor.[10] While with the agency, she pioneered ideas including celebrity testimonials, sex appeal and was responsible for developing its reputation as an agency where bright young women could succeed.[8] Lansdowne went 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.[11]

In 1987, J. Walter Thompson was acquired by the WPP Group.[1] In 2005, the agency was rebranded by shortening its name to JWT; but in 2014, during its 150th anniversary, it returned to the name J. Walter Thompson.[12]

Offices and agencies[edit]

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.[1]

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 (Mirum), XM, CASA, ActivearkJWT, Twist Image, Lunchbox, i-Cherry, HeathWallace, Quirk, Clarus and X-Prime.

J. Walter Thompson has also acquired majority share in China's largest Retail Marketing and Brand Activation agency, Always. This provides J. Walter Thompson, with all round capabilities to efficiently handle through-the-line campaigns and break into the ever growing Chinese market.[13]


On March 2016 the agency and its parent company WPP came under scrutiny as the news of a lawsuit filed by the agency's chief communications officer, Erin Johnson, was made public. Ms. Johnson claimed that former JWT CEO, Gustavo Martinez, had made repeated racist and sexist remarks during work related events. The investigation is still underway.

Notable clients[edit]

J. Walter Thompson Co. advertisement, 1903

Notable clients have included:[14]

Notable campaigns[edit]

  • Woodbury Soap, "A skin you love to touch" (1911)[15]
  • Ford, “There’s a Ford in your future” (1945)[16]
  • United States Marine Corps, "The Few. The Proud. The Marines." (1972)
  • Oscar Mayer, “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner” (1962)[16]
  • Oscar Mayer, "The Bologna Song" (1962)[17]
  • 7UP, "The Uncola" (1967)[18]
  • Toys R Us, “I don’t want to grow up” (1982)[16]
  • Ford Global Anthem (1999)
  • The Times of India, "Lead India"; won a Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival (2008).[19]
  • Samsonite "Heaven and Hell"; JWT Shanghai won a Grand Prix at Cannes (2011).[citation needed]
  • Banco Popular, "The Most Popular Song"; JWT Puerto Rico won the Grand Prix for PR at Cannes. (2012)[20]
  • Kit Kat, “Kit Kat into space” (2012)[16]
  • Kit Kat, “Android KitKat” (2014)[16]

Notable staff[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "J. Walter Thompson Company Profile". WPP. 2015-06-17. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  2. ^ Geisst, C. (2006). J. In Encyclopedia of American business history (p. 232). New York: Facts On File
  3. ^ a b "J. Walter Thompson Co. | American advertising company". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  4. ^ a b "J. Walter Thompson Company | Rubenstein Library | People in the Collections". Colab-sbx-140.oit.duke.edu. 1908-07-15. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ "The J Walter Thompson (Jwt), London, Advertising Agency Client Account Files And Other Office Papers | Details". Hatads.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  7. ^ Ciochetto, L. (2011). China. In Globalisation and advertising in emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, and China (p. 95). London: Routledge
  8. ^ a b c "J. Walter Thompson Co. | AdAge Encyclopedia of Advertising - Advertising Age". Adage.com. 2003-09-15. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  9. ^ "Ad agency J. Walter Thompson, JWT, marks 150 years of iconic ads and catchy jingles". CBS News. 2014-12-23. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  10. ^ "AAF Hall of Fame: Members". Advertisinghall.org. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  11. ^ "Helen Lansdowne Resor Scholarship". Aaaa.org. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  12. ^ a b "JWT to Bring Back the Classic J. Walter Thompson Name". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  13. ^ "Introducing Mirum: A Modern Global Company". Business Wire. 2015-01-29. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  14. ^ "Agency Clients - J. Walter Thompson New York". AdForum.com. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  15. ^ "Model Interpretation". Historymatters.gmu.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "JWT: lessons from the Commodore". campaign live. Retrieved 2015-02-10. 
  17. ^ "Oscar Mayer Wiener Song". Wisconsinhistory.org. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  18. ^ "Ad Age Advertising Century: Top 100 Advertising Campaigns | Special: The Advertising Century". Advertising Age. 1999-03-29. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ "Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, 'The Most Popular Song' | Inspiration | Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity". Canneslions.com. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  21. ^ "Caroline Jones, 59, Founder Of Black-Run Ad Companies". The New York Times. 8 July 2001. 
  22. ^ a b "CVC. Gabriel Garcνa Mαrquez. Cronologνa". Cvc.cervantes.es. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  23. ^ "James Patterson Inc". New York Times. 20 January 2010. 
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ "AAF Hall of Fame: Members". Advertisinghall.org. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  26. ^ "Women to Watch: Daiga Atvara, JWT's Digitaria | Special Report: Women to Watch - Advertising Age". Adage.com. 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  27. ^ a b "Guide to the J. Walter Thompson Company. Domestic Advertisements Collection, 1875-2001 and undated, bulk 1920s-1990s". Duke University Libraries. 
  28. ^ Published: September 15, 2003 (2003-09-15). "J. Walter Thompson Co. | AdAge Encyclopedia of Advertising". Advertising Age. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  29. ^ "Oscar Mayer Foods Corp. | AdAge Encyclopedia of Advertising -". Advertising Age. 2003-09-15. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  30. ^ "1964 1/2 Ford Mustang - By Design -". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  31. ^ "Andrex lines up celebratory campaign as mascot puppy turns 40". Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  32. ^ "Sarah Michelle Gellar: the innocent years". AfterEllen. 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  33. ^ Author* (2012-10-15). "Kit Kat Goes to Space | JWT Blog". Jwt.com. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Davis, Rhiannon, “Negotiating Local and Global Knowledge and History: J. Walter Thompson around the Globe, 1928–1960,” Journal of Australian Studies (2012) 36#1 pp 81–97.
  • Farwell, Tricia M. "Globalizing Ideal Beauty: How Female Copywriters of the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency Redefined Beauty for the Twentieth Century." Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 88#2 (2011): 446.
  • Hultquist, Clark Eric. "Americans in Paris: The J. Walter Thompson Company in France, 1927–1968." Enterprise and Society 4#3 (2003): 471-501.
  • Kreshel, Peggy J. "John B. Watson at J. Walter Thompson: The legitimation of 'science' in advertising." Journal of Advertising 19#2 (1990): 49-59.
  • Kreshel, Peggy J. "The “culture” of J. Walter Thompson, 1915–1925." Public Relations Review 16.3 (1990): 80-93.
  • McDonough, John, and Karen Egolf, eds. The advertising age encyclopedia of advertising (1st ed 2003) vol 3 pp 1530-37
  • Mashon, Mike. "NBC, J. Walter Thompson, and the Struggle for Control of Television Programming, 1946-58." in NBC: America's Network (2007) pp: 135-152.
  • Merron, Jeff. "Putting Foreign Consumers on the Map: J. Walter Thompson's Struggle with General Motors' International Advertising Account in the 1920s." Business History Review 73#03 (1999): 465-502.
  • Merron, Jeffrey L. American culture goes abroad: J. Walter Thompson and the General Motors export account, 1927-1933 (1991)
  • Mishra, Karen E. "J. Walter Thompson: Building trust in troubled times." Journal of Historical Research in Marketing 1#2 (2009): 246-269. online
  • Moreno, Julio E. "J. Walter Thompson, the Good Neighbor Policy, and Lessons in Mexican Business Culture, 1920–1950." Enterprise and Society 5#2 (2004): 254-280.
  • Moreno, Julio E. "Marketing in Mexico: Sears, Roebuck Company, J. Walter Thompson, and the Culture of North American Commerce in Mexico City during the 1940s." Enterprise and Society 1#4 (2000): 683-692.
  • Nixon, Sean. "Apostles of Americanization? J. Walter Thompson Company Ltd, Advertising and Anglo-American Relations 1945–67." Contemporary British History 22#4 (2008): 477-499.
  • Pouillard, Véronique. "American advertising agencies in Europe: J. Walter Thompson's Belgian business in the inter-war years." Business history 47#1 (2005): 44-58.
  • Scanlon, Jennifer. "Advertising women: The J. Walter Thompson Company women's editorial department." in The gender and consumer culture reader (2000) pp: 201-25.
  • Silva, Jonathan. "The marketing complex: the J. Walter Thompson company, 1916-1929." Essays in Economic and Business History 14 (1996): 207-18.
  • Spring, Dawn. "The Globalization of American Advertising and Brand Management: A Brief History of the J. Walter Thompson Company, Proctor and Gamble, and US Foreign Policy." Global Studies Journal (2013) 5#4
  • West, Douglas C. "From T-Square to T-Plan: the London office of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency 1919–70." Business History 29#2 (1987): 199-217.
  • Woodard, James P. "Marketing modernity: the J. Walter Thompson Company and North American advertising in Brazil, 1929-1939." Hispanic American Historical Review 82#2 (2002): 257-290.

External links[edit]