Ginny Bahr is J. Walter Thompson’s longest standing employee, having worked in the New York office for no less than 65 years. Starting work as a press secretary on December 17th 1951 - pre-dating the Mad Men era - she has since worked across almost every department across almost every account. Nowadays she works in the ‘expense hub’, typing up the expense reports for the agency.
But recently Ginny has been tasked with the role of JWT New York’s dedicated SXSW Interactive Correspondent
. Who better than someone that has seen the industry, and world, through so many phases to report on the future of tech and adland?
Ginny’s reports were insightful, entertaining and brilliantly deadpan - her advice on surviving flesh eating sentient robots? “Optimism.” They also saw her dive into the worlds of smart clothing, artificial intelligence, NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism, and even a review of the fictional restaurant Los Pollos Hermanos from Breaking Bad. But which trend was the most prominent? Well, we’re sure you can guess…
“The VR seemed to get the most attention and yet I don’t know much about it!” says Ginny. “There were a lot of reports on it and I even got to try on one of the headsets we have here in the office.
“There’s a lot in the tech world that I have yet to learn about,” she adds. “It’s interesting to see how technology has changed so quickly over the years, especially recently.”
And does all of that technology make a creative’s life easier to what it was 65 years ago, or a trickier landscape to navigate? “Well, it makes sense that it would be easier for them today. More things to do!” thinks Ginny.
SXSW is a relatively young festival at 23 years old, but if the festival ran when she joined JWT 65 years, what does Ginny think would have been the talking points of the festival back then? “One of our clients a long time ago was Lux Video Theater and Lux Radio Theater, so I’d probably say movies. I also remember when colour television was introduced to RCA Victor. That was a big deal!”
Ginny’s reporting tenure is up for now and, while she enjoyed the experience of filming and the attention that has come with it, she is looking forward to getting back to her day job.
“The filming was a lot of fun. I enjoyed working with the team a lot too. I’m not used to all of the attention that has come from it though, and I didn’t realise it would open up such avenues. I have appreciated the interest in it, but now I’ve got to get back to my everyday work!”
NB: While chatting to Ginny we couldn’t help but ask about her favourite ad from over her years at JWT: “The New York Cares Coat Drive ad with the Statue of Liberty shivering. It’s been used year after year and still is to this day!”