The famed copywriter Earnest Calkins once said, "Advertising is the supreme flowering of a sophisticated civilization." Ever awed by the power of advertising, Calkins wielded that power with a facility that brought acclaim from the whole of the advertising world.
Calkins founded his company while writing copy in New York for $35 a week. In 1902 he and Ralph Holden decided to try their luck opening up their own small advertising shop. With Calkins’ talent, they soon became successful. He was the brainchild behind the "Force Food" character, Sunny Jim, and "Miss Phoebe Snow from Buffalo," the young woman dressed in white in the Lackawanna Railroad ads.
The agency itself became an innovator for its time. Under the skillful direction of Calkins, it was credited with devising the first complete plan for an advertising campaign. Also, it was the first firm to merchandise an advertising campaign to salesmen and dealers and to have an internal typographical and art department.
Calkins’ various accomplishments earned him Harvard University’s Edward Book medal, which was inscribed, "to the individual who has done the most to raise the standards of advertising." He was also praised as "the one who more than any other single man brought dignity and stature to our business" by the Art Directors of New York. When Calkins died at age 96, Advertising Age headed his two-column obituary, "Giant of Creative Advertising," commemorating a man whose brilliance shaped advertising’s formative years.