Britt, Steuart Henderson, 1907-1979
- Existence: 1907 - 1979
Steuart Henderson Britt was born in Fulton, Missouri, on June 16, 1907. In 1957 Britt received a dual appointment at Northwestern University as Professor of Marketing in the School of Commerce and Professor of Advertising in the Medill School of Journalism. In 1971 Britt and one of his former students founded the Britt and Frerichs marketing research firm in Chicago. Throughout his career Britt was a prolific author and editor.
Britt's parents, A.T. and Katherine Henderson Britt, had one other son, James. Britt obtained his A.B. in 1931 and his M.A. (psychology) in 1932 from Washington University in St. Louis. In 1935 he received his Ph.D. in psychology at Yale with a dissertation entitled “The Legal Concept of Intent: A Study in Psychological Jurisprudence”. Britt also studied law at the Washington University School of Law and the Columbia University School of Law.
From 1936 to 1942 he taught at George Washington University as an assistant professor of psychology. Britt was admitted to the bar in Missouri (1929) and New York (1936), and was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court (1936). During the initial months of World War II, Britt served in various governmental offices organizing the use of psychologists and related personnel. In 1943 he entered the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant, serving in the Head-quarters of the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet. He worked on the selection and training of personnel and on psychological warfare. Britt was discharged a Lieutenant Commander.
After the war Britt spent thirteen years in advertising with McCann-Erickson (Associate Director of Research; Assistant to the President; and then Director of Personnel), Needham, Louis, and Brorby (Vice President of Research), and Earle Ludgin and Company (Administrative Vice President). For eleven years Britt served as a marketing consultant to the Leo Burnett Company.
In 1957 Britt received a dual appointment at Northwestern University as Professor of Marketing in the School of Commerce and Professor of Advertising in the Medill School of Journalism. He held these positions until his retirement in 1974 when he was named Emeritus Professor. In 1957 Britt also became the first salaried editor of the Journal of Marketing, a position he held for ten years.
Britt was in great demand as a speaker for public, business, and educational organizations in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He also taught workshops and seminars in the U.S. and abroad. He was the founder and producer (1958-1970) of the highly successful Summer Workshop sponsored by Advertising Age. Major lecture tours took him to the Philippines in 1964 and to Europe and Asia in 1967.
In 1971 Britt and one of his former students founded the Britt and Frerichs marketing research firm in Chicago. Britt served as the firm's first president and later became its honorary chairman.
Throughout his three careers Britt was a prolific author and editor. His book, The Spenders (1960), written in response to Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders, sold well and created considerable controversy. In 1951 the American Marketing Association awarded honorable mention to his Advertising Psychology and Research, and in 1963 Media/scope gave a certificate of merit to his Measuring Advertising Effectiveness. Marketing Management and Administrative Action, written with Harper W. Boys, Jr., went through four editions.
In 1959 Washington University presented Britt with its Distinguished Alumnus Citation. In 1963 he was one of ten men in the U.S. and Europe to be elected to the Hall of Fame in Distribution. Twelve years later he was chosen as one of twenty leaders in marketing thought. Despite all of these activities, Britt spent much of his time with his students and a substantial number signed a petition to Northwestern's administration in 1974 seeking to prevent Britt's forced retirement.
Britt married Marion M. Hansell, a well-known painter, in 1936. The Britts had no children. He died in Evanston on March 15, 1979.