Today, the name of pioneering advertising executive Albert Lasker is mostly associated with the Lasker Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports medical research. But as a forthcoming biography by Jeffrey Cruikshank and Arthur Schultz points out, Lasker himself was more likely to self-identify as a “propagandist” than as a philanthropist.
“The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (but True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century” (Harvard Business Publishing) relates how Lasker engineered marketing campaigns for products ranging from Kleenex to Kotex and from Puffed Wheat to Puffed Rice. But as Cruickshank and Schultz remind us, Lasker was as much concerned about social issues as he was about profits, making his chosen description somewhat self-deprecatory.
Lasker’s many causes included a successful effort to block a presidential bid by the anti-Semitic car tycoon Henry Ford, and a tragically unsuccessful attempt to save the Atlanta pencil factory employee Leo Frank, a Texas-born Jew who was convicted of murder and lynched in 1915.
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