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International Advertising and Marketing: Research Strategies

This is a guide to collections at the Hartman Center documenting the J. Walter Thompson Company's history as a transnational advertising agency, including its international advertising and marketing activities outside of the United States.

Researching by Location

If your research question is geographically defined, you can begin by looking for materials pertaining to specific places. This approach is useful for looking at the business climate for advertising, JWT’s expansion and organizational strategies, and clients and advertising campaigns in particular locations. This guide is organized by regions which are in turn organized by country. Regional top-level pages (Asia & Oceania, Europe, etc.) list collections that address advertising and marketing at a regional level, and include search tips for that region. For example, JWT made reports about marketing prospects and assembled client materials for Latin America in general. Sub-pages list collections with material pertaining directly to individual countries. Beyond that, you can search for specific cities and offices in each collection guide. A few collections extensively document one particular office, for example, the London Office and Frankfurt Office collections. The vast majority of JWT offices and activities outside of the United States, however, are documented over the course of several collections. To research the history of JWT in South Africa since the 1920s, for instance, a researcher must work piecemeal across more than a dozen collections, each containing material pertaining to a limited time period.

Researching People

Organizing your inquiry around key figures in international advertising is another effective research strategy, given the structure of the Hartman Center’s collections. Some of the richest collections about advertising beyond the United States are the papers of individual executives, managers, consultants, and administrators in the industry. These papers are rarely limited to just one country or even continent. Thus, they offer perspective on how JWT approached international business as a whole and operated as a transnational company. For example, the papers of Edward G. Wilson, who served as JWT’s general counsel and head of international operations, contain documents on over thirty countries including reports on regional offices and details of trips Wilson made all over the world. In addition, key JWT employees often appear in other manuscript collections and can be found by searching by name on the Rubenstein homepage. Searching for “Edward G. Wilson,” for example, reveals more of Wilson’s correspondence contained in other JWT executives’ personal papers.

Researching Clients

Researching a particular client JWT represented in international markets is another fruitful way to understand the transnational business of advertising. JWT clients in the collections that advertised internationally or were based outside of the United States include Air-India, Chesebrough-Ponds, Continental Airlines, Chevron, De Beers, Eastman Kodak, Esso, Ford Motor Company, Hall's, Harayana Breweries, Kellogg, Kraft, Lotto, Nabisco, Nestlé, Oscar Mayer, Pepsi, Pizza Hut, Rolex, S.C. Johnson, Shell Oil, Unilever, and Warner-Lambert, among others. Materials on these companies are dispersed across many different collections. Esso, for example, can be found in twelve different collections, including the London Office Records, the International Advertisements Collection, and several collections of JWT employees’ papers. To begin, you can navigate to the Rubenstein homepage and search for “J. Walter Thompson” and a client name. Alternately, you can browse the finding aids collections listed in this guide. The finding aids often have a series on “Client Files” that can introduce you to the companies JWT represented.


Choosing a Research Strategy

Researching by Keywords

If you have narrowed your research to a specific research question, a targeted keyword search from the Rubenstein homepage may be fruitful. You can also search within collection guides for keywords using the right hand side bar labeled “Search this collection guide (Ctrl + F).”

The JWT Company frequently researched, strategized, and published about international advertising and marketing. Aside from materials on specific international countries and clients, you can find materials that speak to international advertising in general. Using the keywords “international,” “worldwide,” “multinational,” and “global” can lead to speeches, reports, meetings of professional associations, plans for clients, and publications all addressed to issues around international advertising. Searching the Jack Peters Papers, for instance, reveals, among others, a worldwide business building plan for Kellogg’s, a JWT worldwide staff survey, and a presentation called “Global Marketing … And One Way We Can Prosper from It.” This approach to searching requires culling, but can give an excellent perspective on how JWT approached transnational business at large.