George Burton Hotchkiss

George Burton Hotchkiss (1884-1953), was best known as a ground-breaking teacher of business writing and advertising at New York University from 1908 until 1951.  He wrote over a dozen textbooks on advertising and advertising history including one of the better books on copywriting that most modern copywriters have never heard of – Advertising Copy.

George Burton Hotchkiss Mini-Biography

George Burton Hotchkiss graduated from Yale as an English major with a B.A. in 1905 and an M.A. in 1906. His original ambition was to teach English literature and write poetry but instead he became one of the foremost experts on marketing, advertising and business writing of his time.

His poetic aspirations were sidetracked in 1908 when he took a position in NYU in the relatively new (opened in 1900) School of Commerce where he began a 43-year career. At the end of his career the School of Commerce took up an entire building and had day and night classes but when George Burton Hotchkiss started the job there were only night classes. The reason for this was that the New York University School of Commerce was a practical school and its students were business people who attended after work.

The school was a highly practical school and the teachers were expected to make their lectures richer by adding practical experience.   Joseph French Johnson, Dean of the School of Commerce recommended that Hotchkiss work as a journalist to get real world business writing experience rather than go for his PhD – since he was going to be teaching courses in journalism.

Hotchkiss went to work for the SUN as a financial editor and kept the job for two years while simultaneously holding his business-writing teaching job.

In 1911 Hotchkiss started teaching advertising for the Advertising Men’s League but quickly found out that his students knew more than he did.  So in 1912 he took a job at the George Batten Advertising Agency (before it merged with BDO to become BBDO) and created advertising for the next two years under the guidance of Jim Adams – Batten’s copy chief. During this period he wrote most of the ad copy for the Alexander Hamilton Institute which was a client of the Batten agency.

In 1915 he established a Department of Advertising and Marketing at New York University (NYU). This is the first time in the school’s history that “advertising” appeared in a department name.

References

Jones, D.G. Brian. 1995. George Burton Hotchkiss: A Voice That Carried Well.

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