George Gallup, founder of the organization whose surveys affect everything from advertising to political campaigns, became interested in public opinion research and polling early on. During his years as a University of Iowa graduate student, he wrote his Ph.D. thesis on "A Scientific Method of Measuring Reader Interest in the Content of Newspapers," which was based on the first readership study of the Des Moines Register.
He taught at Northwestern University, but left in 1932 to join Young & Rubicam. There, he established the first agency copy research department as well as the first nationwide system for measuring radio audiences via telephone and house-to-house surveys. He also gave David Ogilvy, his first job in America.
Gallup developed a model of how advertising works based on his many years of studying advertising effectiveness. The crowning achievements to his pioneer work in the area of public opinion research were his founding in 1935 of the American Institute of Public Opinion and the Gallup Organization, of which he was chairman.
Gallup’s contributions to advertising are inestimable. Examples of his influence pervade our everyday life. Today, public opinion affiliates of the Gallup poll are organized in 32 countries, a fitting tribute to such an impressive career.