J. Walter Thompson

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J. Walter Thompson
IndustryMarketing communications
PredecessorCarlton & Smith
FoundedNew York, New York, U.S. (1864 (1864))
FounderWilliam James Carlton
HeadquartersNew York, New York, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Number of employees
10,000 (January 2015)[1]
ParentWPP plc

J. Walter Thompson (JWT), incorporated by James Walter Thompson in 1896 and formerly an advertising agency, is currently a marketing communications company. It has been owned by WPP plc since 1987.[2][3]


The company has been pioneering brands since 1864 and is known for its longstanding relationships with clients, among them Unilever/Lever Brothers (109+ years); Mondelēz International/Kraft Foods (89+ years); Kimberly-Clark (84+ years); Nestlé (81+ years); Kellogg's (80+ years); and Ford Motor (67+ years).[4] Other notable clients include Avon, Treasury Wine Estates, Edgewell/Schick, Tudor, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Newell, Air Canada and the United States Marine Corps.

J. Walter Thompson, of the WPP Group, is the world’s best-known marketing communications brand.[5] Headquartered in New York City, J. Walter Thompson is a global network with more than 200 offices in over 90 countries and employing over 12,000 marketing professionals.

JWT celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2014. It 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.[6] Founder William James Carlton started selling advertising space in religious magazines, but almost nothing is known about the partner named Smith.

In 1868, Carlton hired James Walter Thompson as a bookkeeper.[7] 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 purchased the business of his employer for $500 and, a year later, purchased the office furniture for $800. He changed the company designation to J. Walter Thompson, as he felt that James Thompson was too common a name in New York. One of his first clients was a personal friend – Robert Wood Johnson, one of the three brothers who founded Johnson & Johnson – for whom Thomson personally wrote advertising for the toothpaste brand Zonweis[8]

Thompson, who had served as a U.S. Marine during the Civil War, had first been employed by Carlton & Smith to sell space in religious publications.[7] Under his leadership, the agency became the seller of advertising space in many American magazines and periodicals.[6] By 1889, 80 percent of the advertising in the United States was placed through J. Walter Thompson.[9]

More growth followed, and J. Walter Thompson became the first American agency to expand internationally with the opening of J. Walter Thompson London in 1899.[10] The business subsequently expanded across the globe, being one of the first American agencies in Egypt, South Africa and Asia.[11]

J. Walter Thompson 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 departments.[12] 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.[12] Many of these methods can be seen in notable work that 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 measurement marks 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.[13]

The agency is credited with hiring the first female copywriter, Helen Lansdowne Resor.[14] 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.[12] Lansdowne went on to become the first female 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 assists and promotes talented female creative advertising students who aspire to join the ranks of creative leadership.[15]

Digital capabilities[edit]

JWT has launched Colloquial,[16] a content-marketing joint venture unit with Group SJR; acquired WANDA Digital,[17] an independent digital agency in Turkey; and acquired iStrategyLabs (ISL),[18] a Washington, D.C.-based digital agency.

Creative awards[edit]

Under Matt Eastwood, JWT’s worldwide chief creative officer, JWT earned a total of 80 Lions at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, its highest total ever at that point.[19] Of the 80, the company earned two Grand Prix, an Innovation Lion, a Product Design Lion, nine Gold Lions, 23 Silver Lions and 43 Bronze Lions, alongside 122 shortlists. JWT LATAM was also named the Cannes LATAM Network of the Year, and JWT Amsterdam was named the Cannes Innovation Agency of the Year.

Across 2016's awards circuit, JWT also saw a noticeable boost in its creative performance: at Spikes Asia, JWT was the fifth most awarded network, up from thirteenth in 2015; at the Clios, it was the sixth most-awarded and was Clio Health Network of the Year; at the D&AD Impact, it jumped to second most-awarded agency worldwide and earned the Network of the Year title at Dubai Lynx and Goafest.


In the mid-1970s, J. Walter Thompson was hired by the military dictatorship of Chile, led by Augusto Pinochet, to "refurbish the image of the regime" after international and Chilean human-rights organizations had documented extensive violations.[20][21]

J. Walter Thompson Co. advertisement, 1903

Other significant clients have included:[22]

Distinctive ads[edit]

  • Woodbury Soap, "A skin you love to touch" (1911)[23]
  • JWT invents the grilled cheese sandwich for Kraft (1930)[citation needed]
  • JWT sells Kellogg's Rice Krispies with "Snap, Crackle, and Pop" (1930)
  • Introduced the first paper two for Scott Paper (1931)
  • Introduced Kraft Miracle Whip (1933)
  • Produced the first-ever TV program for Libby, McNeill & Libby (1939)
  • Ford, “There’s a Ford in your future” (1945)[24]
  • JWT creates "The Bologna Song" (1962)[25] and the “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner” song for Oscar Mayer (1962)[24]
  • United States Marine Corps, "The Few. The Proud. The Marines." (1972)
  • JWT creates the Andrex Puppy. (1972)[26]
  • 7UP, "The Uncola" (1967)[27]
  • JWT uses Sarah Michelle Gellar in a controversial Burger King ad that criticized McDonald's (1981)
  • JWT creates Toys "R" Us “I don’t want to grow up” campaign (1982)[24]
  • JWT launches Ford Global Anthem (1999)
  • JWT Thompson breaks the Guinness World Record for the world's largest billboard (2000)
  • The Times of India, "Lead India"; wins a Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival (2008).[28]
  • Samsonite "Heaven and Hell"; JWT Shanghai wins a Grand Prix at Cannes (2011).[29]
  • Banco Popular, "The Most Popular Song"; JWT Puerto Rico wins the Grand Prix for PR at Cannes (2012)[30]
  • Kit Kat, “Kit Kat into space” campaign by JWT London (2012)[24]
  • Kit Kat, “Android KitKat” (2014)[24]

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. Review of "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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "J. Walter Thompson Company Profile". WPP. 2015-06-17. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  2. ^ "Group history". WPP plc. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Sir Martin Sorrell: advertising man who made the industry's biggest pitch". The Guardian. 4 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  4. ^ Elliott, Stuart (2014-03-09). "JWT Plans to Celebrate 150 Years With a Focus on the Future". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  5. ^ "J. Walter Thompson Worldwide - About Us". www.jwt.com. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
  6. ^ a b "J. Walter Thompson Co. | American advertising company". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "History of J&J by Margaret Gurowitz". 2011-04-14.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ "The J Walter Thompson (Jwt), London, Advertising Agency Client Account Files And Other Office Papers | Details". Hatads.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  11. ^ Ciochetto, L. (2011). China. In Globalisation and advertising in emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, and China (p. 95). London: Routledge
  12. ^ a b c "J. Walter Thompson Co. | AdAge Encyclopedia of Advertising - Advertising Age". Adage.com. 2003-09-15. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  13. ^ "Ad agency J. Walter Thompson, JWT, marks 150 years of iconic ads and catchy jingles". CBS News. 2014-12-23. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  14. ^ "AAF Hall of Fame: Members". Advertisinghall.org. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  15. ^ "Helen Lansdowne Resor Scholarship". Aaaa.org. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  16. ^ Writer, Staff. "JWT and Group SJR launch content marketing unit Colloquial".
  17. ^ "JWT agrees to acquire majority stake in WANDA Digital in Turkey - WPP". www.wpp.com.
  18. ^ "J. Walter Thompson Co. Snaps Up iStrategyLabs".
  19. ^ "People think creatives are crazy and undisciplined: JWT's Matt Eastwood". brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com. 2017-02-08. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  20. ^ Burbach, Roger (2003). The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice. London: Zed Books. p. 63. ISBN 1842774344.
  21. ^ Perera, Victor (1975-04-13). "Law and order in Chile". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  22. ^ "Agency Clients - J. Walter Thompson New York". AdForum.com. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  23. ^ "Model Interpretation". Historymatters.gmu.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  24. ^ a b c d e "JWT: lessons from the Commodore". campaign live. Retrieved 2015-02-10.
  25. ^ "Oscar Mayer Wiener Song". Wisconsinhistory.org. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  26. ^ "Andrex lines up celebratory campaign as mascot puppy turns 40". Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  27. ^ "Ad Age Advertising Century: Top 100 Advertising Campaigns | Special: The Advertising Century". Advertising Age. 1999-03-29. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ "JWT Shanghai's Samsonite 'Heaven and Hell' becomes The Gunn Report's most awarded print advertisment of all time". Campaign Brief Asia. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  30. ^ "Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, 'The Most Popular Song' | Inspiration | Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity". Canneslions.com. Archived from the original on November 6, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2013.

External links[edit]