The Advertising Century

John Wanamaker

Published on .

John Wanamaker
Retailer, Philadelphia

Advertising's highest standards at the beginning of the 20th century were embodied by John Wanamaker, whose Philadelphia and New York department stores pioneered fixed prices and money-back guarantees with honest, consistent ad support. A religious man who refused to advertise on Sundays, he hired the great John E. Powers in 1880 as the first full-time (and highly paid) department store copywriter. Their stormy personal relationship succeeded on the professional level because Powers staunchly upheld Wanamaker's marketing philosophy. Wanamaker also reformed the U.S. postal system while serving as Postmaster General (1889-93) in the administration of President Benjamin Harrison and was president of the YMCA from 1870-83. Wanamaker is also remembered in the advertising business for turning a phrase still talked about today: "Half my advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half."

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