Spiegel History

The Spiegel Research Center continues the long tradition of incorporating mathematics, statistics and psychology to understand the principles of effective advertising at Northwestern. Professor Emeritus Ted Spiegel’s vision was to tie academic research more closely to the profession of marketing, which was his personal and professional heritage, to solve business problems. WATCH VIDEO

“We seek to contribute to moving marketing practice from faith to facts. It’s not enough simply to trust that certain marketing practices lead to purchase and re-purchase behavior. Our applied research — for use by academics and practitioners — proves which types of customer engagement with the brand deliver financial impact.” - Tom Collinger

Spiegel Company Founder, Joseph Spiegel

Sources: The Credit Merchants: A History of Spiegel, Inc

Spiegel's furniture shop opens in 1865 on Wabash Avenue in Chicago

Source: People Get the Credit; the First One Hundred Years of The Spiegel Story 1865-1965. Copyright 1954 by Spiegel, Inc.


Joseph Spiegel emigrates to Chicago and opens a retail turned mail- order business. Spiegel coupled a customer’s product purchases with demographics and payment history, a revolutionary practice for the time before digital customer analytics. These innovations gave Spiegel a data-driven and customer-centric edge.

Modie J. Spiegel

Source: People Get the Credit; the First One Hundred Years of The Spiegel Story 1865-1965. Copyright 1954 by Spiegel, Inc.


Modie Spiegel takes over as president of the Spiegel Company and worked at the company for 50 years. Under Modie’s leadership, the Spiegel company became a prominent part of American culture. Modie was featured in Time Magazine and met with John F. Kennedy and other celebrities.

Modie was a pioneer in customer-centric business tactics operating a huge business that people felt was like their local department store. Customers sent pictures of their kids wearing matching Spiegel outfits and themselves wearing Spiegel clothes on their wedding days.

Customers thanked him for the role that the Spiegel business had played in their lives. Under Modie’s leadership, Spiegel sold 6.6 billion in merchandise, took orders from 3.5 million people, and provided 200,000 jobs.

Walter Dill Scott served as professor and president at Northwestern University

Source: Public Domain, Library of Congress

Northwestern University

Source: Northwestern University Library Archives


Walter Dill Scott, a psychology professor, writes arguably the seminal text explaining how advertising works in The Psychology of Advertising in Theory and Practice. In doing so, he was a pioneer in bringing science and data to the field of advertising.

“The day of reckless, sporadic, haphazard advertising is rapidly coming to an end as far as magazine advertising is concerned.” -Walter Dill Scott, 1904, The Atlantic

His work fueled further research about how and why consumers make purchase decisions. Scott later went on to be the 10th university president and in 1921 established the Joseph Medill School of Journalism.


George Gallup, who would go on to pioneer the field of public opinion polling, serves on the advertising faculty at Medill. His service on the faculty is another piece of Medill’s foundation of reliance on understanding customer behavior and using that data to create engaging advertising.

George Gallup appearing on the television show “America Speaks" in which he predicted the outcome of the 1948 presidential election using data from public opinion polls.

Source: Public Domain, Library of Congress

George Gallup is featured on the May cover in 1948

Source: Retrieved from, TIme Magazine Published May 3, 1948. Cover Credit: Boris Artzybasheff

Ted with father M.J. Spiegel

Source: People Get the Credit; the First One Hundred Years of The Spiegel Story 1865-1965. Copyright 1954 by Spiegel, Inc.

Cover of Spiegel Catalog, April 1958

Source: Spiegel Spring/Summer 1958 Catalog cover CC By SA 3.0


Ted Spiegel, for whom the Spiegel Research Center is named, joins the family business, Spiegel, Inc. He served as vice president of marketing and left the company in 1988 and joined the faculty at Northwestern University.

News of changes coming to Medill appears in Northwestern University's newspaper, The Daily Northwestern

Source: Northwestern University library archives


Medill’s Direct Marketing program launches with Ted Spiegel’s guidance.

Ted Spiegel celebrates with Medill graduates

Source: Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. 2014 copyright


Ted Spiegel, grandson of Joseph Spiegel, joins the Northwestern faculty.

Pulling on his experience in catalogue marketing and business strategy to help a wide range of clients from Walt Disney to the Reader’s Digest to the Library of Congress, Ted established a direct marketing concentration (a first in the nation) at Northwestern and was instrumental in shaping the IMC Curriculum during his 25 year faculty tenure.

"Ted Spiegel's enthusiasm for learning and teaching led to innovations that will influence not only the direction of IMC but larger parts of the University. He understood that new communications technologies were having an enormous impact on his field, and helped bring those technologies into the classroom." - Brian Nielsen

Medill's newest building, McCormick Tribune Center, houses journalism and integrated marketing communication students

Source: Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. 2014 copyright


The Division of Integrated Advertising/Marketing Communications (later Integrated Marketing Communications) replaces all of Medill’s advertising programs. The new program focused on analysis of the entire customer experience and data analysis to answer the question, “Does advertising work?”

Founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos

Source: Creative Commons CC By SA 3.0


Amazon launches as an online bookstore. With the advent of the web, e-commerce continually expands creating a wealth of digital database records of customer transactions and interactions, which make our kind of research increasingly important.

Screenshot of Twitter's original public homepage

Photo Source: screenshot obtained from MediaBistro

Screenshot of Facebook's original hompage

Photo Source: screenshot of original website obtained from Wikipedia

2004 & 2006

Facebook and Twitter are invented, dramatically expanding the ways customers engage with brands and creating more ways to capture and analyze customer interactions with brands.

Executive Director Tom Collinger and Ted Spiegel

Source: Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications .2014 copyright


The Spiegel Research Initiative is founded by a generous gift from Ted and his wife Audrey with support from corporations, alumni, and friends. The focus of the center is to do evidence-based, data driven analysis to prove the relationship between customer engagement and purchase behavior.

Ted Spiegel

Source: Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. 2014 copyright


Ted Spiegel passes away. As late as two weeks prior to his passing, Ted discussed the center and research ideas with Executive Director Tom Collinger.

“Ted mentored many faculty members and students. Up until a few weeks ago, he was challenging the IMC faculty to improve teaching with the use of new technologies and teaching approaches. We will miss his vision for IMC education and research.” – Ed Malthouse, Research Director, Spiegel Research Center

Read Medill's tribute to Ted Spiegel >

Pictured left to right: Edward Malthouse, Audrey Spiegel, Tom Collinger

Source: Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. 2014 copyright


Following additional gifts from Ted’s estate, the institute gains center status. We celebrated the history of the center in January, profiled its research, and remembered the Ted with a research presentation and reception in the McCormick Tribune Center.

Watch the presentation >