A history of advertising: beginning BBDO

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Hagley received a historical archive from the renowned advertising agency of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn Inc.(BBDO) in January 2021. Preparing this collection for research has become one of our most important processing projects. BBDO is a worldwide ad agency network headquartered in New York City. The company began in 1891 as the George Batten Company. In 1928, it merged with Barton, Durstine & Osborn. With locations in eighty-one countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, UAE, and seven in the United States, BBDO is the among world’s most-awarded advertising agencies.

BBDO has well-known advertisement campaigns and even more prominent clients. “You’re not you when you’re hungry” from Snickers. Dupont’s “Better things for better living…through chemistry.” Chiquita banana. “Have it your way” jingle for Burger King. There are too many clients to name them all, but to name a few they include Campbell’s, Chrysler, Dunkin, ExxonMobil, FedEx, GE, M&M’s, Nabisco, Pepsi, and Visa. From early twentieth-century cars to tobacco products, California raisins to soap that will not cause “dishpan hands,” this collection is a treasure-trove of material.

The records cover the entire span of BBDO’s existence, beginning with the George Batten Company in 1891. The collection includes advertisement tear sheets (an example seen above), films, ledgers, marketing reports, personnel files, photographs, press coverage, publications, research reports, slides, and speeches.

In future articles, I will share some of the interesting items I find in the collection as I prepare it for researchers! 

Ashley Williams is the Processing and Digital Archivist at Hagley Museum and Library.