Jack began his advertising career at the age of 11 in Atlanta, Ga. His father was president of ALCO feed mills, and Avrett wrote their ads for the local papers. The experience introduced him to advertising and the business of persuading people with the printed word. When it came time to go to college, advertising was his obvious aim.
After graduating from the University of Georgia School of Journalism, Avrett started his career as a retail copywriter at Rich’s Department Store. “I liked retail advertising, the challenge of moving merchandise, the sense of knowing what works and what doesn’t.”
Though he was happy at the department store, Avrett’s never-ending desire for new challenges surfaced, and he moved on to a small soft goods advertising agency where he found that “the workload was enormous—an ad every twenty minutes—even if the pay wasn’t.” From there, Avrett moved to Cunningham & Walsh, where Carl Nichols, later elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame, hired him. After that Avrett spent some years as an advertising nomad, traversing through agencies like Grey, Foote, Cone & Belding, Wells Rich Greene, and, at last, as president of the Marschalk Company, the agency now known as Lowe & Partners. “Those years gave me a priceless post-graduate education and the experience I needed to start my own agency.”
In 1971 he launched the Project Group, a boutique created to handle projects. “With a roster of the best freelancers in town, we didn’t have to hire anyone full-time. Since the agency was located in my apartment, operating costs were minimal. But while projects are a great way to start a business, they’re a terrible way to stay in business. So, over our first three years, we made the transition to a full-fledged agency, including a change of names.” The shop expanded and added two partners, Frank Ginsberg and Marcella Free. Now, more than 30 years later, Avrett Free Ginsberg remains a leading national ad agency under the leadership of Frank Ginsberg. Jack Avrett’s legacy lives on. Frank Ginsberg has kept the name out of respect for his mentors.
Jack Avrett created many well-known campaigns, such as “Tiny Time Pills” for Contac and the “Chow, Chow, Chow” campaign for Purina Cat Chow.
He was a past chairman of the American Advertising Federation and board member of the Advertising Club of New York and Americans for the Arts. He helped found Advertising Week as well as the Advertising Hall of Achievement, which recognizes advertising executives under forty. The AAF added the Jack Avrett Volunteer Spirit Award to complement the Advertising Hall of Achievement. A volunteer extraordinaire, he was always willing to join a committee, spearhead an initiative and get things done. He inspired fellow executives to do the same.