THE FIRST 100 YEARS OF JWT & UNILEVER 1902-2002: Introduction

This foreward could more aptly be called a backward. We are, after all, celebrating the past as much as the future. A hundred years of creative achievement on both sides of the Atlantic, ten decades that have defined one of the world's most admired clients and one of advertising's most august agencies.

Of course, trumpet-blowing like this is not really a J. Walter Thompson thing to do. If memory serves, all the other notable anniversaries in the JWT-Unilever marriage have been largely ignored. So this supplement to Campaign, the fruit of a long distant lunch between its editor and JWT's global business director on Unilever, Tim Davis, marks a rather shocking change of pace for both sides. Add the big party this week at Tate Modern to the mix and goodness knows what will be done to celebrate 200 years.

And yet a celebration seems apt. Evidence of the agency's latest work would suggest that both agency and client have reached the point (all right, after 100 years they should have) where they understand themselves, what makes them tick and what brand and creative values matter to them. A message of self confidence comes across from both sides - tempered, perhaps, by the realism of experience but that is no bad thing.

From the outset, Campaign's supplement was intended to celebrate the brands and the work. The ads, needless to say, have provided our writers with copy made in journalistic heaven. From the earliest black and white print work - "All's well throughout the land and in every household" boomed the spokesman for Lifebuoy soap, promising health, wealth, cleanliness and happiness for a mere five cents - through the heyday of testimonial advertising for Lux, the first stirrings of feminism with Oxo, the triumphs and vicissitudes of the mighty Persil brand, all is chronicled here.

Which brings us to the present. It might sound corny and sentimental in this most cynical of businesses, but 100-year relationships in advertising are pretty wonderful and extraordinary things. And so the only thing to say to those who have worked, or work, for JWT or Unilever on any of these brands - and they know who they are - is thank you.

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