The Commodore’s Ship Sinks In Chicago

Once upon a time there was a famous agency once known as J. Walter Thompson. Then they changed their name to JWT and bad things began to happen. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
In 1891, J. Walter Thompson’s management sent a man to Chicago ahead of the 1893 World’s Fair to make rain. He did and for over a century the Chicago office competed with the New York office for network prominence, but those days have been gone for several years–ever since Kraft took their $200 million in billings elsewhere.
Now, according to several sources the shop will close its doors this week and let go of the 50 remaining people on board the sinking vessel.
Ad Age says the speed at which JWT went from stable to shuttered is striking, particularly given the agency’s former prominence.
The Chicago office once had over 800 employees and churned out well-known slogans like “The Uncola” for 7-Up, “My baloney has a first name,” for Kraft’s Oscar Mayer brand, and “Snap, Crackle, Pop” for Kellogg Co.’s Rice Krispies brand.
JWT President Rosemarie Ryan said JWT will now concentrate on the Atlanta and Toronto offices, in addition to the New York flagship.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.