When Frank Campbell and Henry T. Ewald launched their advertising agency in 1911, assets included six employees, two kitchen chairs, $3,000 in working capital, a couple of clients and the unshakeable belief that success would be theirs.
Forty-two years later, at the time of Mr. Ewald’s death, the agency was handling hundreds of millions worth of advertising, had 400 employees and occupied an entire floor of the General Motors Building.
Henry Ewald began working for the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Co. at the age of 14 as a clerk/ messenger. By the time he was 19, he was D & C’s ad manager. Later that year, when in Chicago attending a meeting of the Associated Advertising Clubs of America, Mr. Ewald met another Detroiter, Frank Campbell.
They first worked together in 1907, when Campbell was ad manager for the Aerocar Company and Ewald held a similar position at D & C Navigation. They dreamed up a very successful publicity stunt for the two companies, which prompted them to start talk of a partnership.
It was in February of 1911, that the Campbell-Ewald Company was chartered by the State of Michigan. Campbell, who brought a roster of clients from his small agency, was named President, and Ewald, Secretary. As history will show, their most important client arrived with Campbell’s agency. Specifically, the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company and its young President, Alfred P. Sloan.
Branch offices were opened in Saginaw and New York and carmakers Hudson and Flanders soon joined the roster. Then everything changed in 1917 when Campbell sold his company stock and resigned, going to Europe to work on behalf of victims of the First World War. Ewald assumed the presidency, never removing his former partner’s name from the masthead.
He embarked on a strategy to build a roster of clients from carmakers who were part of General Motors; first with work for Chevrolet (1919), gaining the Buick account in 1920.
By 1922, with former Hyatt client Alfred Sloan now GM’s President, Campbell-Ewald was named agency for all of General Motors and its brands. In a day, Campbell-Ewald had become one of the county’s five largest advertising agencies.
Over the next thirty years, Campbell-Ewald would ride the financial roller coaster of account wins and losses and the Great Depression. Innovation, however, never stopped. They created a network radio show for their client Chevrolet in 1930. In 1941 they produced their first TV spot. By 1946, they made Chevrolet the first automaker to advertise on TV and two years later, they would become the first to advertise during televised coverage of the Olympic Games.
In 1952, Ewald granted the title of President to Henry G. Little, who he had been grooming for the job for the previous 7 years. Just three months later, Henry Ewald would pass away.