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Who was Albert Lasker? What did he do in the advertising world and why is he considered one of the advertising greats?
Albert Lasker was a reporter who landed a job at the Lord & Thomas agency. Lasker’s philosophy focused mainly on copy, and he was known for thinking everything else was a waste of time.
Read more about Albert Lasker, advertising, and his contributions to the industry.
Albert Lasker: Advertising Great (1880-1952)
Albert Lasker entered the workforce as a reporter for Galveston Morning News. When he was 18, he got a job with the Lord & Thomas agency, which at the time was the third biggest agency in the U.S. but only had one part-time copywriter. Lasker bought the agency when he was 20.
Lasker felt that all an agency had to do was write copy good enough to sell a product. He thought research was a waste of time and resisted using images in ads. This saved him a lot of money in researcher and art director salaries, and his agency made a 7% profit (1% was impressive at the time of writing). He amassed a greater fortune than anyone in the business.
While Lasker was successful, he wasn’t always easy to work with. He was a dictator and wasn’t interested in anyone else’s opinion. He could also be ruthless—during the Depression, he cut everyone’s salary by a quarter and fired 50 people at once, even though his own salary was $3 million a year. He hated committees and talking on the phone, he never joined an advertising club, he avoided competitors, and he dropped huge accounts, such as General Electric, when they annoyed him.
However, he had some positive qualities too. While there was a lot of turnover, he put a lot of effort into training people and paid well. His staff appreciated his detail-orientation tempered by his ability to see the big picture, his magnetism, his ability to anticipate consumers, and how hard he worked.
He worked at Lord & Thomas for 44 years until, in 1942, he decided to retire. He gave the company to three of his employees for $100,000 and told them to change the name. Albert Lasker’s advertising career had ended, but his contributions changed the industry for the long term.
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