James O’Shaughnessy’s greatest contribution to the advertising industry was in helping to organize the modern advertising agency system and its standards, practices and business methods.
He labored with others for seven years to form the Affiliated Association of Advertising Agencies in 1916 and a year later its successor, the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Until 1928 he was its executive secretary, leading its through the growing pains of those days and helping to start it on its great record of service.
During World War I, he was instrumental in forming the Advertising Agencies Corporation, a group of 135 agencies who donated their services to the government and garnered acceptance for idea advertising accepta.
O’Shaughnesy was always interested in engaging youth in advertising and served as marketing lecturer at several universities. He was the first president of the New York Chapters of the American Marketing Association.