Just who was James Walter Thompson?
Although the public recognizes him as one of the oldest--and best-known--names in modern advertising, he is better known within the ad industry as one of the first businessmen to persuade magazines to accept advertising.
Long before other advertising executives were paying much attention to housewives as a market, Thompson was among the first to attempt to reach them with ads, primarily in magazines. In fact, it was this rhyme that Thompson ran across in his readings that inspired him to target the homemaker:
Good bless our wives, they fill the hives
With little bees and honey,
They smooth life's shocks, they mend our socks,
But don't they spend the money!
Thompson was born in Ohio in 1847, was the son of a builder, and through his mother was a fourth cousin to President Theodore Roosevelt. He was hired as a bookkeeper at a small ad agency called Carlton & Smith in 1875 and two years later bought the ad firm for $500.