Advertising: Marketing Madison Avenue

Dan Seymour outlined two primary goals when he became president of J. Walter Thompson Co. five years ago. A onetime radio announcer, Seymour emphasized that he intended to safeguard those factors—particularly talent—that have helped 105-year-old J.W.T. become the world's biggest advertising agency. He would also strive, he said, to acquire new "tools" and people to enable it to grow still further.

To do that, the firm that competitors call "the General Motors of the agency business" last week announced plans to invite the public along for the ride. J.W.T. filed with the Securities and...

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