Covert Ops at J. Walter Thompson


I began my meteoric ascent to become an Ad Biggie in 1968 with the venerable advertising firm J. Walter Thompson in New York City.  At around the same time I was active in the US Army Reserve program. My specialty was in Counter Intelligence. As in, keeping the bad guys away from and out of your stuff and personnel. My NYC Reserve unit's mission was Top Secret; let's just say, as the commanding officer Major Santiago once put it to us, "James Bond kind of stuff."

One fellow in my military company was a New York City detective. He once took me aside and privately told me that he had learned from a reliable source that my company's offices were bugged. Either telephone taps and/or in-office listening devices. I had no reason to doubt him; if it were true, management should be informed. 

I was a junior executive at the time. As in all such undertakings anywhere, informing management that there was possibly some sort of corporate espionage going on could turn back on the informer. Suppose you approach the culprit himself? I decided to do the right thing, and approached a gentleman high up in the organization who I felt was solid to trust. I went to his office and was invited in, but asked him to step outside to talk. He stepped out and I quietly told him the story. He asked me what should be done.

I suggested a meeting at an out of the office location where the detective could come and give his information. I was put in touch with one of the old timers in upper management. We scheduled a meeting at Schrafft's across the street in the Chrysler Building.



I introduced the JWT senior executive and the detective. Remember, I had no first hand knowledge in any of this. I made sure the detective presented his bona fides (badge and ID) so my JWT man would know who the heck he was talking to. Then, I high tailed it out of there. There was no reason for me to be further involved. Or, as they put it concerning sensitive confidential information, there was no need [for me] to know. What, if anything happened, I don't know. Never heard a thing about it ever again.

Now I look back at my early years as an Ad Biggie working for J. Walter Thompson wistfully. So many rich experiences.

In my time the three martini lunch was winding down. Wine spritzer, please. My drink of choice, Campari and soda, big squeeze of lemon.

As for the sex, well some things don’t change. (And never will.) I’ve had my own memorable taxi rides. Nothing to report, just some delicious temptations.






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