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Modern Jewish History:
Advertising


Modern History: Table of Contents | Jews in America | Albert Lasker


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In few modern industries have Jews had greater influence than in advertising, and this applies particularly in America. It has even been suggested that Jewish advertising men are responsible for the wide scope and shape of the modern advertising agency. Though the use of advertising began after the Civil War of 1865, until the beginning of the 20thcentury, business concerns wishing to promote the sale of their goods or services developed their own programs and even wrote their own copy. The existing agencies were thus brokers in media space. This was the pattern when Albert D. Lasker, often called the father of modern advertising, joined the Chicago agency of Lord and Thomas in 1898. He soon realized that by providing first-rate copywriters, who were creative, imaginative artists, the agency could be of far greater help to the client than by just offering the service of selling him space for his advertisements. In 1904, when only 24 years of age, he became a partner in the firm and by 1912, Lasker became the sole owner of Lord and Thomas. He built it in three decades into one of the best known and most respected advertising agencies in America.

Milton H. Biow may be regarded as the man who molded the advertising agency into a form which would meet the requirements of modern business. He began in 1918 with a oneman business and in the four decades of its existence, it became one of the largest and best known agencies both in the United States and abroad. Biow's agency was credited with being the first to use radio and television "spots" for short advertisements. This era saw the development of the partnership agencies. One of these, Grey Advertising, was founded in 1917 by 18-year-old Lawrence Valenstein. Later he formed a three-man partnership with two men he had taken into his employment, Arthur C. Fatt and Herbert D. Strauss. Each of the three was successively president of the company. All three believed advertising to be an important ingredient in the wider activity of marketing, and the firm played a leading part in developing the system of creating a demand for a product before introducing it to the market. In 1936 the agency started Grey Matter, a newsletter of merchandising comment and interpretation, which was widely read both by the advertising industry and by business generally. By the late 1960s the agency was one of the most successful with branches in Canada, Japan, and a number of European countries.

Two former directors of Grey Advertising, William *Bernbach and a non-Jew, Ned Doyle, joined with Maxwell Dane in 1949 to form another three-man partnership, Doyle, Dane, Bernbach, which developed rapidly. Bernbach may well be regarded as the successor to Lasker, Biow, and the Grey partners, becoming the leader of the "creative revolution" that was sweeping across Madison Avenue, the New York center of American advertising. Bernbach began to use copy in which advertisers spoke to the public in low-keyed, even self-deprecating terms. This new approach of intelligent subtlety was quickly and widely emulated. In 1955 Norman B. Norman and a number of his associates in the agency firm of William H. Weintraub and Co. bought control of the agency and changed its name to Norman, Craig, and Kummel. They soon expanded its business by the use of the "empathy" formula, which Norman described as "emotional advertising" aimed at having the reader find himself inside the advertisement.

Other Jews who have made important contributions to advertising are Julian Koenig and Frederic S. Papert (1926) who founded Papert, Koenig, and Lois; Maxwell B. Sackheim (d. 1982), an expert in mail order advertising; David Altman, of Altman, Stoller, and Chalk, specialist in fashion advertising; Ernest Dichter, a psychologist who founded the Institute for Motivational Research; Stanley Arnold, sales promotion consultant; and Monroe Green, an advertising vice president of the New York Times. Green was largely responsible for building the New York Times Sunday Magazine into a powerful combination of trade and consumer publication. In the 1920s and 1930s Jews in advertising were mainly relegated to media or market research jobs, and had no part in front office, account-management, or contact functions. But the skill and accomplishments of many of them opened the gates to Jews and other members of minorities, in a profession that had been restricted to gentiles for decades. Among the Jews who rose to prominence in the American advertising industry in more recent years were Carl *Spielvogel, who later became United States ambassador to Slovakia; Donny Deutsch, who sold his agency for many millions and began a career in television; and Linda Kaplan Thaler, whose creativity started with advertising jingles and expanded into a flourishing, multifaceted agency.

It was not until the 20th century after World War II, that Jews rose to prominence in advertising in Britain. The multiplicity of media used in modern advertising called for creative ability and Jews found outlets for their skills in this profession. Jewish agencies include Caplan's Advertising, Progress Advertising, and Richard Cope and Partners. Probably the best-known contemporary British advertising agency is Saatchi & Saatchi, founded by the two *Saatchi brothers. In general, however, Jews play only a limited role in British advertising.

On the continent of Europe advertising developed slowly until after World War I when the growth of methods of communication was rapid, but Jewish participation was brought to an abrupt close by the Nazi Holocaust. Since World War II expanding American agencies and to some degree British agencies have extended their operations to the continent to compete with their European counterparts and it is here that Jews have begun to play a creative role.

In Israel

There was little organized advertising in Mandatory Palestine. The first advertising agency was set up in Jerusalem in 1922 by Benjamin Levinson, who was followed by a handful of others. Several more modern agencies were established by newcomers from Germany in 1933–39. Large-scale advertising started only with the rapid development of industry and the creation of a growing consumers' market in Israel, especially after the Sinai Campaign (1956). Today, Israeli advertising is indistinguishable in its methods and pervasiveness from advertising in any other Western-style consumer society.

The favorite medium is still the daily press: In 2003 Israel's newspapers received 53% of advertising revenues ($293 million). Next came television with 33% and radio with 7%. Internet advertising, the new frontier, had a modest 2%. The Israel Advertising Association, established in 1934, has 60 agencies as members.

[Jack Barbash]


Sources:B.B. Elliott, A History of English Advertising (1962); J. Gunther, Taken at the Flood: The Story of Albert D. Lasker (1960); M. Mayer, Madison Avenue, USA (1958); M.H. Biow, Butting In: An Adman Speaks Out (1964). IN ISRAEL: Sefer ha-Shanah shel ha-Ittonaim (1965), 353–70.

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