Thompson, J. Walter

Thompson, J. (James) Walter

(1847–1928) advertising executive; born in Pittsfield, Mass. He served in the Union navy in the Civil War. In 1867 he joined William Carlton's New York advertising agency, which he bought in 1878 and turned into the most successful agency in history. He virtually created modern advertising, transforming advertising into a primary sales tool by persuading magazines and major clients (Eastman Kodak, Prudential Insurance) of its respectability; his success in placing advertising in magazines made national product campaigns possible. Believing that advertising had peaked, he sold the agency in 1916 and devoted himself to such interests as yachting.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.