It’s the end of an era at Wunderman Thompson. Ginny Bahr, who joined the agency 69 years ago as a secretary and didn’t look back, is retiring.
According to the agency, she is the longest-serving employee. Bahr joined the business long before it merged with Wunderman in 2018, when it was still known as J. Walter Thompson.
Wunderman Thompson said Bahr first joined the agency as a receptionist in 1951 and has since served as secretary to many of its former vice presidents and CEOs. The agency said it has also had the opportunity to work on accounts such as Ford, PanAm, and Shell throughout her career.
More recently, Bahr told Adweek that she mostly “did secretarial work” in the agency’s treasurer’s office. As to why she is retiring now, she said, “I think it’s around that time.”
Bahr said she stopped going to the office in February after breaking a shoulder from an elevator accident. Shortly afterwards, all of the agency’s employees started working from home due to Covid-19, so she has not been able to return since then.
“I never came back because everything changed. I will definitely miss the company, ”said Bahr. “I have so many memories. I enjoyed the people I worked with. I have no complaints. “
Bahr said her favorite memories of the agency were singing in J. Walter Thompson’s choir, which she performed across New York City during the holiday season.
“I loved those times,” she said.
In 2017 she was J. Walter Thompson’s virtual “SXSW Correspondent”. During that appearance, the agency’s New York office offered quick commentary and conference highlights through a video series called Midtown by Midtown East or “MXME”.
As someone who was in advertising in the “Mad Men” era in the 1960s, Bahr said she was not involved in the debauchery or had never met it. Even so, she admitted that she occasionally heard things through the vine.
“Often times people thought I probably knew all about it [those days]and I’m embarrassed to say that I never really knew much about her, ”she said. “In any case, those days were pretty racy, and as I said, I was aware of them, but not involved. I never went on business trips with the guys. “
Regarding what has changed since it was first launched, Bahr said that people dress a lot differently than they used to in the office.
“It’s a lot more relaxed,” she explained. “These days it’s nothing to see women in pants and the occasional shorts. Men dress very differently. Usually they all wear jeans. It’s a lot more casual. I think that’s good because then you are more relaxed in what you are doing. “
Bahr also remembers a time when female creatives were a rare breed in the agency. According to Bahr, they were different from other women wearing hats and sometimes gloves.
“They always wore hats and were dressed to the T,” she recalled. “There was a distinct difference.”
At the end of her career, Bahr’s advice to her younger colleagues is simple: “Relax. Enjoy and find out that you are very lucky to have joined a company like this [Wunderman] Thompson. “
To commemorate their retirement, the agency has put together a short video highlighting their many accomplishments, such as leading the agency’s blood donation drives. In it, former and current executives of the agency share stories and what it was like to work with Bahr.