Meet Yao Junwei, sub-manager

This is the third installment of my series devoted to the the Consolidated National Advertising Co, one of the largest Chinese advertising agencies established in Republican China (f.1930). 

In the previous article, we introduced Zheng Yaonan, general manager of the advertising agency Consolidated National Advertising Co. In this article, we will introduce the submanager of the company, Yao Junwei. 

Yao Junwei 姚君偉 (Yao Chunwei) was one of the key founders of the Consolidated National Advertising Co., along with Zheng Yaonan and Lu Meiseng. When the agency was established in 1930, he was appointed sub-manager.[1] As a major shareholder of the group, he was an ex-officio member of the board of directors of the agency and its affiliated companies – Consolidated Coupon Co (Lianhe zengpin youxian gongsi 聯合贈品有限公司) and Consolidated Sports Association (Lianhe tiyuhui 聨合體育會), which were both established in 1934.[2]

Yao Junwei was born around 1890 in Wujin (武進), Jiangsu province. By the time the Consolidated Group was formed, Yao Junwei had already acquired a solid experience in advertising. He was the owner of three agencies that merged to form the Consolidated group: the Commercial Advertising Agency (Shangye guanggaoshe/gongsi 一大廣告公司/公司) (founded in 1924), United Advertising Advisers (Lianhe guanggao guwenshe聯合廣告顧問社) which took charge of advertising in Shenbao from 1927 onwards, and I-Tai Advertising Company (Yida guanggao gongsi 一大廣告公司), specialized in advertising along railways and highways.[3]

Like his colleague ZYN, YJW was a rich man. In August 1930, his personal fortune was estimated at several tens of thousands of taëls.[4] Yao Junwei was a major shareholder of the newspaper Shenbao (5,000 taëls) as well as the Xinwenbao (about 4,000 taëls), one of Shenbao’s main competitors. He also owned shares in other companies in the food (Taifeng Canned Food Company) and tobacco industries (Nanyang Tobacco Company).[5]

Although he attended the meetings of the Advertising Club in the early 1920s, he was one of the founding members of the competing Chinese association (Zhonghua guanggao gonghui 中華廣告公會), in which he held prominent positions – member of the organizing committee in 1923, member of the permanent committee in 1929, and member of the executive committee of the reorganized association in 1930 (Shanghai tebie shi zhonghua guanggao gonghui 上海特别巿中華廣告公會).[6]

In contrast to his US-trained associates Lu Meiseng and Wang Yingbin, Zheng did not teach advertising in universities, but he did contribute articles to professional journals – Guanggao yu tuixiao jikan (廣吿與推銷季刊) [Advertising and Marketing Quaterly] – or books, such as the first « History of Chinese advertising » published in 1948.[7] He also served as the supervisor of the business school affiliated with the Commercial Press in 1935 (Shangwu Yinshuguan fushe shangye buxi xuexiao 商務印書館附設商業補習學校), another institution that contributed to the institutionalization of advertising know-how in China.[8]

Like his associates, Yao Junwei was a philanthopic entrepreneur devoted to the community. As early as 1923, he was involved in flood and drought relief (Hushu shiuzai chouzhenhui 湖屬水災籌賑會, Shanghai choumu gesheng hanzai yi zhenhui 上海籌募各省旱災義振會).[9] In 1933, he joined the national air defence association (Hangkong jiuguo yundong 航空救國運動) and sponsored the Chinese Infectious Disease Hospital (CIDH) (Hongkou shiyiyuan 虹口時疫醫院).[10] After the Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), he regularly contributed to the national lotteries that the Shenbao co-organized with Consolidated National Advertising Co. Shenbao in order to support post-war reconstruction, and he financed several student scholarships and research prizes (Shenbao duzhe zhuxuejin 申報讀者助學金, Shenbao kexue jiangjin 申報科學獎金).[11] His last appearance in the press is related to his sponsoring of Lu Meiseng’s (unsucessful) political campaign during the legislative elections of 1948.[12]

To sum up, YJW presents a profile similar to ZYN’s. Both were typical of those overactive, cross-sector entrepreneurs who did not pursue higher education but entered business quite early in their career, and for whom advertising was just one among their many other activities. The last instance of this group is Lu Shoulun, who will be the subject of the next article.

Notes

[1] Shenbao (SB), 1 August 1930. China Press (CP), 1 August 1930.

[2] SB, 17 February, 2 July and 16 August 1934.

[3] Shenbao, 18 February 1925, 23 December 1927. SMA, Q275-1-1840-27 (37).

[4] SMA, Q275-1-1840-27 (37).

[5] Taifeng Canned Foods Co. (Taifeng guantoushipin gongsi 泰豐罐頭食品公), Shenbao 30 January 1935; Nanyang Tobacco Co. (Nanyang cao gongsi 南洋草公), SB, 24 October 1935.

[6] SB, 27 June 1921; 24 November 1923; 15 October 1929; 10 June 1930.

[7] SB, 12 May 1936, 2 November 1948.

[8] SB, May 6, 1935.

[9] SB, 1 January 1923; SB, 23 July 1935.

[10] SB, March 18 and September 11, 1933.

[11] SB, 3 May 1944, 18 September 1947.

[12] SB, 3 October 1948.

Abbreviations

CP: China Press
LMS: Lu Meiseng 陆梅僧
LSL: Lu Shoulun 陸守倫
SB: Shenbao
WYB: Wang Yingbin 汪英賓
YJW: Yao Junwei 姚君偉
ZYN: Zheng Yaonan 鄭耀南
ZZP: Zhang Zhuping 张竹平

Cécile Armand

Ancienne élève de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon (2006), agrégée d'histoire (2009), docteure en histoire (2017), postdoctorante à Stanford University (2017-8) puis Aix-Marseille Université dans le cadre du projet ERC “Elites, Networks and Power in modern China” (2018-). Ma thèse soutenue à l’ENS Lyon en juin 2017 proposait une histoire spatiale de la publicité à Shanghai (1905-1949). Mon nouveau projet porte sur l’invention du consommateur et de l’expertise sur le marché en Chine républicaine. Au-delà, mes centres d'intérêt couvrent l'histoire urbaine, spatiale et sociale, les outils et méthodes numériques en sciences sociales, l'historiographie et l'épistémologie en général.

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Cécile Armand

Ancienne élève de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon (2006), agrégée d'histoire (2009), docteure en histoire (2017), postdoctorante à Stanford University (2017-8) puis Aix-Marseille Université dans le cadre du projet ERC “Elites, Networks and Power in modern China” (2018-). Ma thèse soutenue à l’ENS Lyon en juin 2017 proposait une histoire spatiale de la publicité à Shanghai (1905-1949). Mon nouveau projet porte sur l’invention du consommateur et de l’expertise sur le marché en Chine républicaine. Au-delà, mes centres d'intérêt couvrent l'histoire urbaine, spatiale et sociale, les outils et méthodes numériques en sciences sociales, l'historiographie et l'épistémologie en général.

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