Business & Finance: Death of an Agent

Brisk and businesslike was the name on his card: "J. Walter Thompson." Brisk and businesslike was the young advertising agent who followed it, some 55 years ago, into the sanctum of Harper's Monthly. Aghast and horrified were the editors who heard his proposal. Flank their belles lettres with a tradesperson's solicitation? As well charge Helmsman Ulysses S. Grant with bottomry. The public would recoil in equal alarm. Young Thompson insisted that back-page advertisements were dignified, profitable. He prevailed.

Forthwith, from many a cover, svelte females simpered; deep-browed males smirked. All were ruminant. Their...

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