Brown’s Job

Brown is gone, and many men in the trade are wondering who is going to get Brown’s job. There has been considerable speculation about this. Brown’s job was reputed to be a good job. Brown’s former employers, wise, gray-eyed men, have had to sit still and repress amazement, as they listened to bright, ambitious young men and dignified old ones seriously apply for Brown’s job.

Brown had a big chair and a wide flat-topped desk covered with a sheet of glass. Under the glass was a map of the United States. Brown had a salary of thirty thousand dollars a year. And every year Brown made a “trip to the coast” and called on every one of the firm’s distributors.

He never tried to sell anything. Brown wasn’t exactly in the sales department. He visited the distributors, called on a few dealers, once in a while he made a little talk to a bunch of salesmen. Back at the office he answered most of the important complaints, although Browns job wasn’t to handle complaints. Brown wasn’t in the credit department either, but vital questions of credit usually got to Brown, somehow or other, and Brown would smoke and talk and tell a joke, and untwist his telephone cord and tell the credit manager what to do.

Whenever Mr Whyte, the impulsive little President, working like a beaver, would pick up a bunch of papers and peer in to a particularly troublesome and messy subject, he had a way of saying. “What does Brown say? What does Brown say? What the hell does Brown say? – Well, why don’t you do it then?”

And that was disposed.

Or when there was a difficulty that required quick action and lots of it, together with tact and lots of that, Mr Whyte would say, “Brown, you handle that.”

And then one day the Directors met unofficially and decided to fire the superintendent of No. 2 Mill. Brown didn’t hear until the day after the letter had gone. “What do you think of it Brown?” asked Mr Whyte. Brown said, “That’s all right. The letter wont be delivered until tomorrow morning, and I’ll get him on the wire and have him start East tonight. Then I’ll have his secretary send the letter back here and I’ll destroy it before he sees it.”

The others agreed, “That’s the thing to do.”

Brown knew the business he was in. He knew the men he worked with. He had a whole lot of sense, which he apparently used without consciously summoning his judgment to his assistance. He seemed to think good sense. Brown is gone, and men are applying for Brown’s job. Others are asking who is going to get Browns job – bright, ambitious young men, dignified older men.

Men who are not the son of Brown’s mother, nor the husband of Brown’s wife, nor the product of Brown’s childhood – men who never suffered Brown’s sorrows nor felt his joys, men who never loved the things that Brown loved nor feared the things he feared – are asking for Brown’s job.

Don’t they know that Brown’s chair and his desk, with the map under the glass top, and his pay envelope, are not Brown’s job? Don’t they know that they might as well apply to the Methodist Church for John Wesley’s job?

Browns former employers know it. Brown’s job is where Brown is.

BROWN’S JOB was written by FR Freland, the Treasurer of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborne, a New York Advertising company a century ago.

It was first published in the firm’s ‘house’ newsletter in 1920. Later, it appeared as full page in the New York Times around 1929, with just the name of the firm below the copy and no other message. It won wide acclaim and judged to be a very successful promotion.

BROWN’S JOB never really advertised anything except it appeared over the firm’s name.

It was judged to be one of the 100 most successful advertisements (in print) in over a century when it was reproduced in 1958 in a collection (complied by Julian Lewis Watkins) of the “100 Greatest Advertisements” and has since been reproduced several times (latest 1994) under this title.


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