At the time, America was struggling through a period of economic turmoil that would be forever remembered as The Panic of 1907. Some also remember it as the 1907 Bankers’ Panic. Others remember it as the Knickerbocker Crisis.
The point is there was panic and crisis. And word of it spread very, very, very slowly on account of there being no Internet, social media or television. Why, they didn’t even have radio yet!
In other words, the timing was perfect for a young man by the name of Lessing to open up an advertising company in Des Moines, Iowa, population 70,000 or so.
Indeed, Paul Lessing was either a brilliant visionary who recognized an extraordinary opportunity … or he was completely crazy for thinking it wise to open the Lessing Advertising Company amidst all that slowly spreading panic and crisis.
None of us can say for certain, for none of us ever met Paul Lessing. But rumor has it he was a natural born storyteller with a blue-collar work ethic and a tight-fisted approach to business.
One of his shrewdest moves was to bring in as partner a short, temperamental man named Roy Flynn, who could crawl under his desk and sleep off a martini lunch with the best of ‘em.
Behind Lessing’s creative approach to advertising and Flynn’s creative approach to “entertaining” clients, the agency earned business from clients across Iowa and the Midwest.
The agency continued to prosper by being the first to embrace new media technologies. Lessing-Flynn was among the first agencies in the state to advertise on radio and television, the first ad agency in Iowa to introduce computers and desktop publishing, and the first agency in the state to use a computer network to communicate via electronic mail.
Today, four generations and over 100 years later, the world of marketing and advertising is much different than it must have been amidst all the panic and crisis of 1907. But Lessing-Flynn, in the spirit of its brilliant and/or crazy founder, continues to use resonant storytelling and savvy marketing strategies to help businesses and entrepreneurs in agriculture, financial, insurance, health services, tech and other industries grow.
The Melting Pot was a newsletter published over 90 years ago by our founder Paul Lessing. You’ll find a lot of what Lessing had to say then is still true today. These issues are in PDF format and may be viewed using Adobe Acrobat Reader.