Description: Comprises J. Walter Thompson's London Office (hereafter JWT) client account files, executives' papers and other office material.
'The significance of the British JWT papers can hardly be overestimated. The JWT files provide social and cultural historians of modern Britain with an unrivalled and comprehensive insight into the changes British society and the life of ordinary consumers underwent between the 1920s and the 1970s. The JWT papers ...give a rare insight into how an American advertising agency attempted to develop the British into a more brand-oriented and advertising-conscious consumer body. The files allow researchers to gather first-hand information about the living conditions, consumer spending habits and class and gender- relations in Britain during the twentieth century"
(Dr Stefan Schwarzkopf, 5 June 2008).
'Taken together this [i.e. HAT's entire JWT collections] constitutes the best collection of material for any advertising agency operating in Britain, particularly for the 1950s and 60s. The internal agency documents are a particularly important resource...evidencing as they do the day to day thinking of the agency about its clients' products"
(Dr Sean Nixon, 20 October 2010).
The cataloguing of this collection has been made possible by an award from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme, administered by The National Archives (2011-2013).
Level: Collection (Fonds)
Alt Ref No.: J Walter Thompson (JWT), London Archive (HAT50)2
Extent: 80 linear metres
Agency: J Walter Thompson (JWT), London
Related Material: JWT: Deposited by the JWT London agency at HAT in 2004 and 2007. Includes administrative documents (e.g. board of directors' minute books, share registers, billings registers), press cuttings books, photographs of agency internal activities, publications and printed ephemera, guard books containing advertising proofs, radio and TV advertising, branded artefacts and the Allen Thomas collection.
HAT 21/181: The John Treasure Collection: John Treasure (1924-2004), managing director BMRB 1957, Director of Marketing & Research JWT London 1960, Chairman JWT London 1967 and Vice Chairman JWT Worldwide 1974. This collection includes JWT published reports and unpublished research manuscripts by Treasure and other authors.
HAT 21/326: The Joan Northover Collection: Artwork, photographs, posters and TV commercials reflecting the career of Joan Northover (1937 - ) including a period at JWT London 1967-1978 as a trainee production assistant to Roger Holland.
HAT 21/358: The Stephen King Papers: Stephen King (1931-2006) was a leading intellectual figure in the world of communications strategy, and brand planning. In 1964 he set up JWT's own Advertising Research Unit with a brief to develop and test new research techniques and provide a link with BMRB. The collection includes articles, publications, transcripts of his speeches, presentations and conference papers and correspondence. There is also a quantity of JWT-related internal papers and publications covering brand communication, strategy, market research and case studies.
HAT 21/492: The Patricia Mann Papers: Patricia Mann OBE (1937-2006) joined JWT as a secretary in 1959, evolving within the company into a successful copywriter for clients such as Kelloggs and Schweppes. In that year she became JWT's head of public affairs, becoming group director of external affairs and vice president international 1981-1997.In these roles, and as a long serving member of the Advertising Standards Authority (1973-1986 and its chairman in 1977), she took a rigorous view of standards in the interests of the consumer. She sat on various European Community committees e.g. European Advertising Tripartite, the Food Law Group and committees involved with children's advertising issues. She was editor of JWT's Consumer Affairs journal 1978-1998 and among her publications were 150 Careers in Advertising (1971) and Advertising and Marketing to Children (1980). A governor of HAT, it was Patricia Mann's knowledgeable overview and persuasive case that led to JWT London's decision to deposit its archive at HAT from 2004, thus ensuring that this remarkable collection of UK brand heritage remained in the UK for public access and study.
Although this collection is dominated by papers generated though Patricia Mann's European activities there is also some material that reflects administrative aspects of her career at JWT London.
HAT 21/493: The George Butler Archive: George Butler (1904-1999) joined JWT in 1925 becoming the agency's art director from 1932-1962. The collection includes art work, correspondence and photographs.
JWT's USA and other International Office records are held by the Hartman Centre for the Study of Advertising and Marketing at Duke University, North Carolina, USA.
Admin History: The J. Walter Thompson Company (hereafter referred to as JWT) was founded in 1864 in the USA (New York), as Carlton and Smith. This firm, which originally sold advertising space in religious journals, was purchased and re-named after himself in 1878 by James Walter Thompson (1847-1928), an employee who had started with the company as a book-keeper clerk. Thompson quickly transformed the business and 'by 1895 JWT were providing a wide range of advertising services including copy, layout, package design, trademark development and rudimentary market research' ('The Advertising Age Encylopedia of Advertising', p.1530). In 1899 James Walter Thompson published 'The Thompson Red Book' based on his advertising philosophy, containing aphorisms and examples of company advertisements. In 1916, allegedly believing that the advertising business was past its peak, James Walter Thompson sold the business to a syndicate headed by his general manager, Stanley Resor.
JWT became the first American agency to open an office in Britain when it opened a European Sales Office in London in 1899 (at 33 Bedford Street in the Strand): 'It was a relatively small undertaking involving four or five staff...The office acted as a sales representative servicing European advertisers who wished to run campaigns in America...The office hastily closed in 1916 when staff joined up on America entering the First World War' (Douglas C. West, 'From T-Square to T-Plan', p.199). JWT re-opened its London Office in temporary accommodation in 1919 at Kingsway, under the new ownership of Stanley Resor, before moving to Bush House in Aldwych, which remained its home until the Second World War. By the early 1920s JWT was handling British advertising for five American clients, the largest of whom was Sun Maid Raisins of California. 'In 1925 in recognition of the increased importance and competition for British Business, Stanley Resor placed the London office under the charge of one of his top US executives, Sam Meek. Meek's brief was to increase turnover and encourage further European expansion, and indeed business soon grew' (West, p.200). The establishment of JWT London as a full-service advertising agency is generally dated from 1926 and it 'soon acquired a reputation based on its American parentage, for hard-hitting, effective advertising, founded on solid research' (Rayfield, 'Fifty in 40'). 'Under Meek's direction the London Office had undoubtedly established itself among the top ranks of British agencies. By 1933 it was said to be in line with the three largest agencies, placed second...in 1936 and proclaimed to be the top agency in the country by the "Advertising World" nearly two years later [in 1938]' (West, p.201). Although American accounts provided the mainstay of JWT's London Office in business in the 1920s, a policy of diversification ensured that by 1930, 50% of accounts were British. JWT London was incorporated as a limited company in 1933 and founded a 'spin-off'' market research company, the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) in the same year. JWT was widely known within the industry as the 'University of Advertising' and prided itself on being able to talk to clients confidently, in 'their own language', by undertaking a thorough study of market conditions for a particular product. According to the American Journal, 'Advertising Age': 'no agency has probably been more widely identified with research''.
JWT London was a pioneer in the field of radio commercial advertising in the 1930s with broadcasts on Radio Normandy and Radio Luxembourg and was the first agency to have its own recording studio. During the Second World War JWT was responsible for many classic 'home front' campaigns. In 1946 JWT London moved its offices to the prestigious address of 40 Berkeley Square. In 1953 JWT set up a department to prepare for the advent of television advertising and was the first agency to persuade top film and television directors to make commercials for their clients from the launch of commercial television in 1955. In the post-war period the London office 'developed its own indigenous identity...with substantial diversification of business and ended up by giving a lead to the Americans (and indeed the advertising business as a whole) with the development of the "T-Plan" in the late 1960s' (West, p.199). In 1966 JWT's Public Relations Department became a subsidiary company known as Lexington International. JWT became a public corporation in 1969 and was reorganised in 1980 to form a new holding company, JWT Group Inc., with J. Walter Thompson as the largest of a number of subsidiaries including advertising, public relations and market research firms acquired in the 1970s. In 1987 JWT became the first publicly owned agency to succumb to a hostile takeover when it was acquired by the WPP Group (Wire and Plastic Products) and its media department merged with that of Ogilvy & Mather in 1997 to create Mindshare. The JWT London office was moved from Berkeley Square to a Knightsbridge address in 2000. In 2005 the agency officially shortened its name to JWT, although it had been known as such informally for many years.