A revitalized JWT launches globally; Chicago sells its creative services to a non-profit via e-Bay

J. Walter Thompson, the world’s largest ad agency, has reinvented itself as “JWT,” calling the relaunch a “billion dollar startup,” with a celebration held Feb. 28 at all JWT’s 300-plus offices in 87 countries.

The global agency aims to create compelling communications programs that entice consumers to want to spend time with their clients’ brands.

“We’re recognizing that savvy consumers won’t waste time on choices that don’t meet their needs,” said Bob Jeffrey, CEO of JWT Worldwide.

Chicago ECD Graham Woodall added: “This is a brave new world where marketers need to think of themselves as creators of their own audience, regardless of the medium. From today forward, we will rethink the way we do business.”

In recognition of its new theme, JWT Chicago plans to auction the office’s time on e-Bay to create a communications campaign for a charity?an idea driven by Woodall.

“We’re looking forward to giving our time to a worthy organization,” said Chicago president Barry Krause.

Auction details will be announced next week to corporations, foundations and charity executives.

“We anticipate that the winning bidder will be a company or individual that can afford the kind of communications campaign that most non-profits cannot,” Krause said. “The winning bidder will designate the 501(C3) organization that will benefit.”

JWT’s 200 employees learned of the auction plans at a Feb. 28 celebration at the Newberry Library. The Library was chosen because it and JWT Chicago both opened in 1893.

The Chicago meeting opened with a symbolic “extreme” transformation of James Walter Thompson, the agency’s founder, from the legendary Commodore into a young, vigorous figure ready to compete in today’s environment.

Still, the program’s focus was the agency’s new point-of-view about communications and the commitment to create new kinds of ideas that people view, not as interruptions, but ideas they choose to engage and spend more time with.

The meeting culminated with a visit to the Merchandise Mart space into which JWT will move in May. There, all 200 staffers?along with JWT’s 8,500 worldwide employees?signed a Creative Partnership Contract that symbolizes a personal commitment and accountability to improving the creative product and shaping the agency’s future.