'Color Uncle Frank Playful Grey Flannel’: The J. Walter Thompson Colouring Book
In the long-gone days of 2015-16, adult colouring books suddenly became nothing less than a phenomenon. The Independent even reported that the craze had led to a 'global pencil shortage'. Imagine my surprise, then, when working on Adam Matthew Digital’s forthcoming J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America, I came across a colouring book for adults, released as long ago as 1974! Produced with the intention of introducing JWT's Atlanta office to potential clients, this playful offering features a series of cartoon illustrations of its staff, accompanied by tongue-in-cheek captions.
The book highlights some of the more unique fashions of the 1970s: among those depicted are several aficionados of 'maroon pants and white shoes' - although Floyd, who 'reps the Marine Corps', 'does not have maroon pants or white shoes. Marines are rugged individualists'. Alongside, we see comment on the “long lunch”. Debbie 'covers up for Nick and Buddy while they are out on five hour lunches’.
There was, of course, a serious point to all this. Even with a generous helping of satirical humour, the Atlanta Office was on the lookout for new business. In producing a colouring book, it had found a unique way of publicising the company and its staff, repeating its best-known copy, and plugging prestigious accounts.
And what better way of showcasing creative talent than this?