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TitleProfits and loss accounts of the British advertising agency Millington, Ltd (1927-1941)
Year Start1927
Year End1941
DateThursday 23 February 2017

These tables record the fluctuations of profits and loss accounts of one of the main Shanghai-based advertising agency Millington, Ltd from its founding in 1927 until 1941. The figures are based on reports from boards of directors and annual general meetings either published in the local press (China Press, North China Herald), or hold in the Shanghai Municipal Archives (SMA_Q275-1-1840).

These tables have served to build the related "graphs" (see the "Graphs" sections). They have proved precious materials to analyze the possible impacts of political events and economic conjoncture on the advertising business, through the case study of this exceptionnaly well-documented agency. The figures reveal that after a period of rapid and spectacular growth (1927-1931), the company suffered from serious losses between 1932-1935), probably due to the war in Shanghai in 1932-1933 and the economic depression that followed. The firm's situation shortly improved in Spring 1935, at the cost of a drastic reduction of its capital. Millington, Ltd. went through hard times again in the wake the bombing of Shanghai in August 1937. The first semester of the year 1938 was said to be the worst time experienced by the company during its entire life. Yet it prompty recovered and eventually recorded the best profits ever known in its history at the last annual general meeting in 1941.

This case study suggests that even the strongest companies in Shanghai might suffer from political and economic troubles at various scales - not only in Shanghai, but in China and the world, especially in the case of a worldwide-connected agency like Millington, Ltd. Yet, the impacts of political events and economic conjoncture on advertising business are far from being clear and simple to reveal and interpret. The impacts of events or crisis may be postponed and experienced at a more or less later time by the company. Moreover, other internal factors, related to the specific history of the company, may interefere. As far as Millington is concerned, the crisis in Shanghai may have been either counterbalanced, either aggravated, by the profits or losses made by other branches in Hongkong and Singapore. This graph finally suggests that war is not always or necessarily detrimental to the advertising business - quite the contrary. Although Millington Ltd seemed to suffer from the first war in Shanghai in 1932-1933, and immediately after the bombing in August 1937, the war period between 1938-1940 appeared to be the most profitable time for the company in its entire history.

KeywordsMillington, crisis, depression, reduction, loss, profit, fluctuation, conjoncture, delay, postponing, war, Shanghai, Hongkong, Singapore

Millington_Accounts_Synth_1927-1941.xlsx (41.83 ko)

Millington_Accounts.xlsx (138.72 ko)

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