Above image (from left to right): James Mills - Vice President, George Myers - Creative Director, MacDonald Merrell - Account Executive, J.T. Howard - President, Donald Adams - Account Executive, Harry Zepp - Senior Art Director
Having just watched Mad Men for the first time yesterday, I couldn’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite photo collections, the J.T. Howard Advertising Agency collection, in which most of the photos were taken in the hey day of cocktails, smokes, and brainstorming.
Raleigh’s first advertising agency (and first full-service agency in North Carolina) started back in 1945 when Jack Howard began J.T. Howard Advertising in an abandoned photography dark room on W. Martin Street. His first desk was made from an old door that he found lying around the space, but he was still able to get clients based on his reputation as a business man. After moving from multiple locations, one of which included a morgue, into a house on S. Dawson, his agency boasted it was the “only agency in the state with free baths for clients”. Considering the house was shared with the Girl Scouts, it wasn’t long before the boy’s club found a new spot.
In 1960 they moved to their large Morgan Street location, and began producing the work that made them the most renowned agency in the area. Even Chic McKinney and Mike Silver (who later formed McKinney-Silver out in Durham), got their start working for Howard. Their clients included the State of North Carolina, Pine State Creamery, Monk Tobacco, White Dairy, and Occidental to name a few. Jack Howard’s agency is still open today as Howard, Merrell & Partners in a different location.
1947 ad for White Dairy Ice Cream, one of the agency’s first clients
Brainstorming for car battery advertising
1957 Annual Report Cover for CP&L
Art department in an undated photo
Group shot of agency (Jack Howard second from left)
Designing for a Pine State Creamery campaign
On the Agency’s 22nd anniversary, Jack Howard was presented with his receptionist, Julia Willis, jumping out of a birthday cake. When asked to comment about the cake, Howard said, “That was the damnedest I ever saw. I feel ten years younger.”
Photos courtesy of Jack Howard’s family donation to the Raleigh City Museum.