Leo Burnett founded the famous advertising agency that carried his name, as well as “Chicago school of advertising”. In contrast to the style of Madison Avenue, meaningful images were emphasized over clever copy or catchy…
Albert Lasker was the man who invented advertising, he is regarded as the father of modern advertising. In fact, a few men have done more to change the buying habits of American consumers.
Sunkist, Palmolive, Goodyear, Kotex, Kleenex, Pepsodent, and Lucky Strike are some of the famous names launched and propelled by Albert.
Albert was born in 1880 in Germany into a Jewish family, his family moved to the United States while he was still a child. At the age of 12, Albert published his own weekly newspaper, he then joined a local daily when he was a teenager.
Albert continued to work for other newspapers and he was intent on growing his career as a journalist. However, Albert’s father opposed the idea as journalists had the reputation of being drunkards, he suggested that Albert go into advertising instead.
Albert reluctantly moved to Chicago to work at an advertising agency, Lord & Thomas. He intended to stay there for only a few weeks just to please his father, he ended up staying in Chicago for 44 years.
After being an office boy for a year, Albert started doing sales after one of the agency’s salesmen left. Albert requested to take on an old account that wasn’t performing well – Wilson Ear Drum Company to gain his experience in copywriting.
He wrote the advertisement for the mail order business and managed to multiply the revenue of this account by ten. When Lord retired in 1903, Albert purchased his share and became a partner, he then purchased the firm in 1912 at the age of 32.
Albert believed that advertising was news, until he met John E. Kennedy who enlightened him that advertising is “salesmanship in print”. These three words have defined advertising ever since, and Albert made Lord & Thomas the first agency to have a team of copywriters.
At the time when people ate oranges but did not drink juice, Albert convinced people to “Drink an Orange” in his Sunkist advertisement. It was revolutionary and thanks to him, orange juice is now drunk throughout the world.
In 1911, Albert was tasked to market another marginal product – a green toilet soap called Palmolive. Instead of explaining its cleansing properties, Albert decided that Palmolive would be a beauty product for the modern woman. Coupled with sample distribution techniques, the “Keep the schoolgirl complexion” slogan had made Palmolive the best-selling soap in America.
Another new type of advertisement was created by Albert for Goodyear, when the tire brand was not known to distributors back then. He offered to put retailers’ names in local advertisements provided they had $250 worth of tires in stock, some 30,000 retailers accepted.
Albert spearheaded another campaign to promote Kotex, when menstruation was a taboo subject and the product was not selling well. He persuaded retailers to put self-serviced Kotex packets at the counter, and convinced the magazines to accept direct advertisement. Kotex became a success, and Albert was the one man who gave the women disposable sanitary pads.
Albert was tasked with another new product of Kimberly & Clark – Kleenex, when handkerchief was widely used back then. He engineered a campaign suggesting that handkerchiefs are full of germs and people should use tissue instead. Even though the handkerchief industry protested, Kleenex became an instant success. Later, Albert invested $3.5 million in Kimberly & Clark shares.
Albert also became one of the largest shareholders in Pepsodent, an American toothpaste brand. When a new substance “sodium alcyl sulfate” was added to fight tooth decay, Albert thought that the term was too technical to be understood. The name “irium” was chosen and made Pepsodent a great success, Albert joked that he invented “irium” and he had no idea what it meant.
After World War I, sales of ready-made cigarettes boomed in America, which was a symbol for real men and tough guys. At that time, it was very unusual for women to smoke and impossible for them to smoke in public. Albert thought that if he could get women to smoke, Lucky Strike would double its market, so they launched a series of campaigns targeting women.
The most classic campaign he launched was “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”, reasoned that cigarettes do not make women fat. When Lord & Thomas took on the account, Lucky Strike became the market leader position in just 3 years’ time and stayed top for 20 years.
When Albert was retiring after 44 years after getting tired of advertising, he wanted the name Lord & Thomas to disappear with him. Albert transferred his team and clients to Emerson Foote, Fairfax Cone and Tom Belding, and that’s when F.C.B. agency was formed.
Albert made his fortune with nothing but marketing ideas, he became the richest and most influential man in the history of advertising.