The advertising industry was one of 20th-century London's boom industries. It brought new jobs for commercial artists, printers, copywriters and- later in the century - film directors. By the end of the century, London firms dominated the national industry with over 80% of all British jobs in advertising located in London.

At the beginning of the century, London's fledging advertising industry was in the hands of three main firms: Mathers and Crowder, founded in 1850; T B Browne's, founded in 1872; and S H Bensons, founded in 1893. The industry expanded and changed in the 1920s with the arrival of new, large-scale American agencies such as J Walter Thompson, which opened its London office in 1926. The Americans brought a new hardnosed approach to advertising, employing such 'scientific' processes as market research.

By the 1920s, London's advertising district was Aldwych and Kingsway. The district was convenient to Fleet Street, then the centre of the newspaper industry that made up the agencies' major clients. J Walter Thomson had offices in Bush House. Benson's offices were in Kingsway. By the 1960s, the industry had moved eastwards to Soho.

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