J. Walter Thompson Company. Frankfurt Office. Wilfried Henkel papers, 1957-1987, bulk 1975-1984

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J. Walter Thompson Company. Frankfurt Office
13.5 Linear Feet
12,150 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Wilfried Henkel, former managing director (Geschäftsführer) at the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT), Frankfurt office, span the years 1957 to 1987, with the bulk of the material dating from 1975 to 1984. The collection consists of articles and presentations (typed or offprints) accompanied by charts and graphs, typed and handwritten correspondence, external and internal memoranda, as well as press clippings and other printed material, and documents Henkel's activities during his tenure at the Frankfurt office, where he was considered the "chief ideologist." Throughout his time in Frankfurt, Henkel worked on individual accounts, but more importantly he was one of the early proponents of corporate advertising, especially in the form of corporate identity and corporate communications. In addition, he worked extensively on JWT's corporate strategy, the T-Plan (target plan).

Specific topics documented in the Wilfried Henkel papers include the philosophy of advertising as evidenced in particular (mostly German) advertising campaigns; analyses of agencies', businessmen's, and customers' attitudes toward advertising; JWT's corporate philosophy as presented in the T-Plan; presentations on the future of advertising; and individual advertising campaigns--including Deutsche Bank, Deutscher Wein, Fichtel and Sachs, Flachglas, Ford Motor Company, Frankfurter Hypothekenbank, Hercules, and Zanders--supervised by Henkel for JWT. While the general files in the Henkel papers document communication between JWT and its clients as well as within JWT, other parts of the collection contain a high percentage of presentations and talks.

Approximately 70% of the collection is in German. Only correspondence with foreign offices and clients, as well as some of the subject material, is in English. The collection is arranged into five series--the General Files Series, the Client Files Series, the New Business Presentations Series, the Subject Files Series, and the Writings and Speeches Series.

The General Files Series documents the day-to-day activities and proceedings in the JWT Frankfurt Office during Henkel's tenure. Most significantly, this series contains Henkel's domestic and foreign correspondence, house memoranda, and internal as well as client reports. Topics include the acquisition and loss of clients (especially Ford); JWT's position in the German advertising industry; organization and administration within JWT Frankfurt (especially internal finances and work in units); the celebration of 30 years of JWT in Frankfurt; the founding of subsidiaries Deltakos; JWT Direct; and Pro:Motion; and the opening of the Düsseldorf and Hamburg offices of JWT.

The Client Files Series reflects Henkel's involvement in the planning and financial aspects of JWT-Frankfurt's relationship with its clients. Most of the series documents the on-going planning and execution of advertising campaigns--through correspondence, presentations, and briefings--as well as general and economic relations between JWT-Frankfurt and its clients. The major accounts in this series include Braun, Commodore, Deutsche Bank, Deutscher Wein, Fichtel and Sachs, Flachglas, Ford Motor Company, Frankfurter Hypothekenbank, Hercules, Knauf, Kraft, PEP, and Zanders. One item of particular interest is the presentation made by JWT Frankfurt to Ford in 1985 in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the Ford account. For several clients--including Braun, Deutsche Bank, Ford and Zanders--Henkel supervised a corporate identity campaign. The files of several accounts also collect press clippings relevant to the client.

The New Business Presentations Series provides information on JWT-Frankfurt's efforts to win new clients or additional accounts. The material on any given presentation usually includes internal correspondence suggesting a new client or account, internal evaluations of that suggestion, first contacts with the prospective client, JWT's preparation for the presentation, the presentation itself, and a subsequent analysis of the company presentation and memoranda (Haus-Mitteilungen) on the success of the presentation and the likelihood of getting the account. These files include a small number of clients which were actually won (e.g., Frankfurter Hypothekenbank), but mostly cover companies which chose other agencies. In some cases, there was direct competition between the various companies to whom JWT was presenting, such as between the department stores, Hertie, Kaufhof, and Karstadt. Well-documented clients include Bridgestone, Hertie, and Philips.

The Subject Files Series, the centerpiece of the Henkel collection, covers a variety of topics related to the development and application of JWT's T-Plan: the concept of corporate identity and the idea of corporate communication. In addition, this series contains Henkel's collection of background material on the subject of consumerism. As "chief ideologist" of JWT's Frankfurt office in the 1970s and early 1980s, Henkel was especially involved in these areas. There are a number of different versions of JWT's T-Plan from between 1970 and 1982. Each of the individual topics contains articles and presentations pertaining to its theory, examples of its practice at JWT and in the advertising business at large, as well as research on the topic. Henkel participated in the discussion through presentations such as his frequently revised "Corporate Identity--Mehr Marktanteil im Bewußtsein der Öffentlichkeit" ( "Corporate Identity--A Greater Share of the Market in the Public Consciousness") found in Corporate Identity/Presentations/Henkel Lecture 1977-78.

The Writings and Speeches Series collects works by Henkel as well as a number of outsiders to the company. While many articles, presentations, and talks come with author names, there is also a significant number of anonymous contributions. The topics of the writings range from philosophical examinations of particular aspects of advertising to comments on individual advertising campaigns. About half of the articles are in German, the rest in English.

Related materials may also be found in other collections from the J. Walter Thompson Company Frankfurt Office.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1927 July 23
Studied German Language and Literature and History at the University of Marburg
Worked as junior editor of a family-type magazine
1959 May 1
Began work for JWT Frankfurt as a copy-writer
Creative Group Head; worked on S.C. Johnson account (launch of Pronto, etc.)
Creative Director, JWT Frankfurt; responsible for the Target Plan
1971 July 6
Director, JWT Frankfurt, deputy to George Black; responsible (with him) for design department (Gestaltungs-Abteilung) and assisting in organizational and personnel matters
Unit Leader, JWT Frankfurt (clients included Ford, Braun, Kellogg's, Dunlop, BBC, Chevron, Hoffmanns, Pepsi, Unilever)
Geschäftsführer/Managing Director and member of the Board of Directors; responsible for clients Deutsche Bank, Stabilisierungsfond Deutscher Wein, Commodore Computer, TEFAL and new business presentations
Left JWT on July 31
Acquisition information:
The J. Walter Thompson Company. Frankfurt Office. Wilfried Henkel Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 1995.
Processing information:

Processed by Norbert Schurer, Richard Collier

Completed December 31, 2002

Encoded by Michael Shumate

Processing was supported in part by gifts from the J. Walter Thompson Company Fund and the John and Kelly Hartman Foundation.

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], J. Walter Thompson Company. Frankfurt Office. Wilfried Henkel Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.