Monday, March 26, 2012

New Orleans Mad Men

An example of American marketing well before the Mad Men era.  

In 1939, Ronald S. Renaudin (1912-2001), the manager of Gulf's Central Service Station on Canal and South Claiborne Streets sent this ad to Guy Seghers Sr. (1898-1986), a local surveyor.  Seghers, bless his heart, was a very thrifty businessman who saved every scrap of paper that came his way -- calendars, advertisements, envelopes -- in order to sketch out his lot surveys and transcribe chain of title information on the blank back sides. In this case, the verso of the advertisement delineates street lines associated with a property in Square 627 of the First Municipal District of Orleans Parish.

Renaudin (above left) was a native New Orleanian, graduated from Warren Easton High School, attended Tulane University, and then joined the Gulf Oil Company in 1933 as a service station salesman. By 1937 he was Gulf's merchandising salesperson, by 1958 he was division manager of retail and jobber sales, and by 1965 regional manager for Gulf's Central Region, based in New Orleans. His career spanned four decades, from the great depression through the post-War economic boom.

Gulf's 1939 personalized direct mail advertisement featured an illustration by John August Groth (1908-1988), Esquire Magazine's first art editor, most widely known as a teacher at the Art Students League and for his illustrations of American military combat. Some of his depression-era social commentary drypoints may be viewed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's website here.

Images above:  R.G. Renaudin, Gulf Central Service Station mailer to Mr. Seghers, 22 November 1939, Guy Seghers Office Records, "District 1 Square 627," Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

"R.G. Renaudin, New Orleans division manager, marketing for Gulf Oil Corporation, discusses high cost of education with Dr. Albert W. Dent, president of Dillard University.  At a chapel ceremony, Dr. Dent had just accepted from Gulf a $1,000 unrestricted grant for use by Dillard's department of education under Gulf's comprehensive aid to education program."  The Crisis (December 1961): p. 638 as viewed in Google Books 26 March 2012.

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