Monday, June 05, 2006

The Father of Modern Advertising

(continued from The Media Era, see 5/24 below)

Media placement was so important in the early years of advertising probably, in part, because the advertising landscape was so untamed. It took many years for advertising business practices to become standardized. Once the business practices of advertising stabilized, Creative took over as a way for agencies to set themselves apart. The switch occurred rapidly.

(I wonder if perhaps the reason media gets so much attention these days is partly for the same reason. There has been a general breakdown of old, established practices in recent years, which has been replaced by the entrepreneurial fervor of the digital revolution. Creative seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Will stability ever return to media planning and buying? And if it does, will there then be a Creative renaissance?)

Albert Lasker, known as the “Father of Modern Advertising”, was the son of a wealthy Texas banker who got him a job at the Chicago agency of Lord & Thomas in 1898 when he was 18 years old. Lasker started out by sweeping floors and emptying spittoons as an office clerk.

After a year, Lasker asked for and was granted a chance to try his luck as a salesman. He was an immediate success. Before the next year was over, he asked Mr. Thomas to put him in charge of a few accounts that were not making any money so he could practice copy writing. Within a year, he achieved a dramatic success with a hearing aid company. Both Lord and Thomas were impressed with Lasker's ingenuity, which in turn caused a fond rapport to develop among the three men. In 1903, when Lord retired, Lasker purchased his share of the business and became a partner in Lord and Thomas. And in 1912, he purchased the remainder of the company and became its sole owner. Lasker retired in 1938, and in 1942 he sold the ownership of the Agency to his three leading regional managers, Emerson Foote in New York, Farifax Cone in Chicago, and Don Belding in California for a nominal amount of $100,000 with the condition that they retire the name of Lord & Thomas. Thus, the agency became known as Foote, Cone & Belding.

As you probably know, FCB – now a part of Interpublic - was just merged with direct-marketer Draft, and Howard Draft will head the new combined entity to be known as the Draft FCB Group.

But in 1904, Albert Lasker changed the course of the advertising industry.

(to be continued….)

Additional reading:
see American National Business Hall of Fame,


Post a Comment

<< Home