An era comes to an end tonight when J Walter Thompson, one of the most respected and among the oldest advertising agencies in the world, rechristens itself in India, and becomes JWT.
The agency, like many among its peers, will be rebranded as an abbreviation in an effort to reinvent itself for the digital age. The event in India is a part of the larger global affair where the world's fourth largest advertising agency is officially discarding its 140-year-old name in favour of a swanky new identity.
Bob Jeffrey, appointed worldwide chief executive some 13 months ago, ordered the rebranding as a way of underlining "the greater transformation of JWT". Colvyn Harris, chief executive offiicer, JWT India, told agencyfaqs!: "The transformation is not just about a logo. It's about the new idea and the philosophy at JWT. And, it's about how we would do advertising in future."
That transformation reflects the agency's moving away from traditional 30-second TVCs towards communication through the Internet, video games and blogs.
As a part of rebranding, JWT - widely regarded as a traditional agency with clear dividing lines between creative professionals who work on the advertising and account managers who service clients - is to be reorganised.
From now on, bonuses for employees will be reportedly based on more than just financial performance. Employees will also have to sign a new 'creative partnership contract'. The contract will exhort employees to 'take responsibility' for their work and is apparently tough on non-performers.
It's the third time that the agency is changing its name in India. In 1929, the agency had entered India as J Walter Thompson, renamed itself as Hindustan Thompson Associates or HTA under duress in the 1970s, got back the original J Walter Thompson name in September 2002, and is finally rebranding itself as JWT tonight.
The New York-based agency has declined to reveal the cost of its rebranding, although both external specialists and in-house expertise have been used. JWT has 8,400 employees in 315 offices across 87 countries. JWT is part of the WPP group of communication companies.
Excerpted from www.jwt.com, the agency's website:
The thinking behind JWT's new logo and identity
"We wanted to change - not only the way we look but also the way we do business. We'll start with the way we work and finish with the way we look. This will ensure our new look is not a replacement for change - but a reflection of it.
The first decision was our name. Over the years we have amassed a number of versions, used in different ways in different countries. We are now back to one. It's the shortest, most succinct and most recognized version of who we are. We are JWT.
JWT is not a small start-up. We're a global network of talent. We need to look like one. Crisp thinking and sharp design are increasingly important attributes of communication. We created a logo that reflects this. It's clean and simple, elegant and fresh.
Eliminating J. Walter Thompson's name is about bringing the past into the future; leaving behind the sense of being slavish to our corporate ID; creating a more contemporary ID.
The final decision was color. We have been navy blue almost as long as blue has been navy. Navy's conservative sensibility aside, our first question was why one color? We now operate in a number of cultures and a number of countries. We have a number of strengths and we work in an increasing number of media. To reflect this, we chose three colors that have their own strength and vibrancy and can be used separately for different applications. They reflect our differences but most importantly, they work best when they all work together - just like a Global Network of Talent."
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