1976: The Start of Everything

The inception of Laughlin Constable

It was 1976. Steve Laughlin asked his neighbor for help moving a sofa into his new apartment. This significant ask would be the beginning of a friendship and professional relationship that would grow to matter far more than moving. In fact, it’s grown to what, 40 years later, we’re celebrating today.

That same year, Steve and his neighbor, Dennis Frankenberry, founded an agency with Matt Bernstein and Ellen Persa, aptly named Frankenberry, Laughlin, Bernstein & Persa, Inc. As the agency continued to evolve, a young Englishman, named John Constable, decided to make Milwaukee his home. Now, the two writers finally had their art direction leader.

As time continued to pass, the agency saw more and more changes, more growth and more locations. Today, we’re known as Laughlin Constable – LC for short.

Forty years have gone by, and sometimes, a bit of history can help put things in perspective. Here are a few reference points about life back in 1976:

  • Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer, Inc.
  • Microsoft’s first advertisement appeared in Digital Design
  • NASA landed the Viking 1 on Mars.
  • Nadia Comaneci received the first Perfect 10 in Montreal.
  • Fidel Castro became President of Cuba.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest swept the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress categories at the Academy Awards. Jaws won Best Original Score.
  • Matsushita introduced the VHS home video cassette recorder to compete with Sony’s Beta max system.
  • The average rent was $220.
  • Gas cost $0.59 a gallon.

VHS is gone, rent is too damn high and LC is better than ever. Behold some fun facts and trivia from our own archives.

  • The first Macintosh computer was installed at LC in 1990. To be specific, it was a Mac IIcx with 8 mb of RAM, an 80 mb hard drive and a 19” black and white monitor. It had 12 fonts and Photoshop version 1.0.
  • In 1993, Adweek named Laughlin Constable one of the nation’s fastest-growing agencies.
  • LC Milwaukee is located in the historic Mitchell building. Our beloved neighbor – LC has a great history with neighbors – has been next door for a very long time: The Swinging Door Exchange, née Grain Exchange Tavern, has been slinging drinks since the end of Prohibition in 1933.
  • LC once let a woman perform a ceremony to rid our Milwaukee office of evil spirits she had identified around it. Until it rained, ours was the only building in the middle of summer with salt on the sidewalks.
  • In 1998, LC opened another office in Chicago, which we quickly outgrew, prompting a move to Michigan Avenue.
  • The Michigan Avenue office was art directed by LC and the open-floor plan highlights a floor mural designed by one of our own. Inspired by traditional Japanese tattoo work, woodblock prints and undersea motifs, the end result was featured in Interior DesignMagazine’s Best in Office Design
  • The Milwaukee office has griffins guarding its office and Chicago benefits from the protective gaze of the Art Institute’s lions across the street.
  • LC started Wellness Wednesdays because our leaders recognize that breakfast is extra important on hump day.
  • In Milwaukee, we have a popcorn and beer happy hour on Thursdays. In Chicago, it’s on Fridays. Our most enterprising employees plan their schedules to hit both.
  • Our Milwaukee office is kid- and pet-friendly – just ask our Barketing Manager, Lucy.
  • Our team boasts the talents of a Navy SEAL, Milwaukee Bucks dancer and the Guinness World Record holder for largest pillow fight.

Laughlin Constable is proudly celebrating 40 years and we’re especially proud to celebrate our people. We’re not sure what it’s like at other shops, but we’re a team with unwavering passion for what we do, open minds, intense work ethics, meticulous attention to detail and a universal belief that any idea is worthy. Back in the day, there were a couple of crazy and creative guys moving a couch. Now, we’re a crazy (in a mature way) creative team moving our clients from now to next.

Cheers to 40 years.

For more tips and insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact Nicole Stone – Senior Vice President, Business Development at nicole.stone@laughlin.com or 414.270.7235.

  1. jane reid (formerly schneeberg) 3/20/2018 7:05:46 PM
    related to john persa? met him when I worked at eric of Norway in 78
  2. Ellen Persa 1/24/2017 6:54:58 PM
    Congratulations, Steve. Seems like only yesterday sometimes.

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