The data and marketing industry has lost a number of its most respected leaders this year; they may have gone but their contribution to the sector – and their influence on so many people – will never be forgotten.
They all played a major role in the early days of the sector, and in many ways were pioneers, helping to shape today’s business.
January saw the passing of Lester Wunderman – the man widely regarded as the founding father of direct marketing – who died at the age of 98, having dedicated his life to the world of response-driven advertising.
Lester was born in 1920 in the Bronx and after an apprenticeship at several agencies, joined Maxwell Sackheim & Company in 1947, where he became executive vice president. In 1958, he co-founded Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline, which specialised in mail order and direct mail.
The agency was acquired by Young & Rubicam in 1973, and ultimately became part of WPP Group, when it acquired Y&R in 2000.
Lester had stepped down in 1998 but had lost none of his enthusiasm for the business. As chairman emeritus, he still reported to work every day at the agency’s offices, where he often visited with clients, executives and interns alike.
WPP chief executive Mark Read said: “Lester was a true visionary with a lifelong commitment to innovation and creativity. He will be remembered and respected for his achievements and revered as a friend and colleague.”
In April, Rosemary Smith, one of the most influential figures in the UK industry and a recognised authority on data protection, passed away.
Rosemary started her career in directory publishing, before joining the Periodical Publishers Association in 1984 to analyse the UK’s first Data Protection Act (DPA) and explain its impact to members.
Spells at Mardev, Acxiom, and The Prospect Shop followed until Rosemary set up her own company, RSA Direct. Within a year, she launched a separate data protection business Opt-4, together with former DMA board director and National Geographic client Jenny Moseley.
Over the years, Rosemary gained huge respect for her unstinting work for both the DMA and the IDM; she sat on the DMA board for seven years and was also DMA chairman from 2006 to 2008 and chaired the DMA Governance Committee, dealing with all aspects of privacy in marketing.
In addition, Rosemary was a tutor for the IDM and was made an IDM Honorary Life Fellow in 2009. She was also chair of the DM Trust, a member of the Royal Mail Market Reach Advisory Board and co-founder of the Data Protection Network, an online resource for privacy officers and those with an interest in data protection matters.
Moseley led the tributes: “Rosemary was my best friend. Supplier, colleague, mentor and all-round fun person. I admired her so much and consider her to be one of the cleverest people I have ever known.
“We got into all sorts of scrapes together; climbing over a swimming pool wall at a Jersey conference, eating Raclette in Montreux, giggling over the oompah band in Lederhosen… Her wit at such times was legendary.”
The DPN has since launched the Rosemary Smith Award for Responsible Marketing, backed by the DMA and the DM Trust.
In April, former colleagues, friends and associates paid homage to Rick Pullan, the founder of TBDA and a 17-year veteran of the DMA Agencies Council, who passed away aged 65.
Rick started his career working on the Alberto V05 brand, and then went through the ranks in sales and marketing to become UK marketing director, then managing director of the Far East region when Unilever bought the brand.
In 1994, he set up TBDA, which over the years worked for Ben & Jerry’s, Europcar, First Capital, InterContinental Hotels Group, P&O Ferries, Stagecoach, Marks & Spencer and Nestlé.
Rick sat on the DMA Agencies Council from 1998 until 2015 and, in January 2016, also set up community marketing specialist consultancy Connect2 with Jeremy Taylor and Chris Arnold, which he ran in addition to his role at TBDA.
Omaid Hiwaizi, who worked with Rick on the DMA Agencies Council, said: “Rick was a dynamo, the energy of a Millennial in a Gen X body. It was great working with him on the Council. He was a trusted friend too and I found his mix of stoicism and humour inspiring.”
In August, the industry also paid tribute to former Direct Mail Information Service chief Jo Howard-Brown.
Jo worked at Royal Mail’s Direct Mail Sales Bureau and then launched a market research firm with Jeanette Hull, called the HBH Partnership. The company offered direct marketing consultancy and ran the Direct Mail Information Service, which provided official statistics on the UK direct mail market and undertook all Royal Mail’s consumer research.
However, Jo quit the industry nearly a decade ago to move into property investment.
Among the senior figures who paid their respects was Klive co-founder Chris Ward, who worked with Jo at the DMSB. He said: “Jo was nothing less than a titan of the industry. I had the absolute pleasure of working with her. When the direct marketing industry was making strides to be taken seriously by ad and media agencies Jo was a force to be reckoned with, and they loved her for it.
“No bullshit, straight talking, more knowledgeable and smarter than most in our industry, she carved a path that has helped many of us make a great living. And of course let’s not forget the fun we had along the way. Jo was a party girl way before the label was made. Jo, you were loved by many and leave a massive hole that just can’t be filled.”
And, just this month, the sector lost one its most colourful and flamboyant characters, Lloyd James, who passed away after a long illness, aged 62.
Lloyd started his career in recruitment in 1974, working for Reed Executive, before joining Commercial Names & Numbers, a B2B data provider in the early Eighties.
He moved on to SR Communications in 1986 where he first met Lynn Stevens and they both quit in 1990 to set up the Lloyd James Group.
The company went on to be one of the biggest independent list and data businesses in the UK for over 20 years. However, following a tough period for the broking industry, Lloyd James Ltd was forced to shut up shop in 2015. The firm relaunched as Lloyd James Media, but Lloyd was not directly involved, instead setting up his own consultancy.
Stevens said: “I worked with Lloyd for 30 years. He was an amazing manager and mentor, he could instinctively recognise the qualities in people and then encouraged them, inspiring and motivating them to play to their strengths.
“He played a huge part in launching many highly successful careers and built an amazingly loyal team at Lloyd James over the years, all of whom are still in touch – we call ourselves the ‘LJ Family’. Nothing illustrates that more than the fact that some of his team were with him when he passed away.
“He wasn’t just a boss, he was the most amazing friend and it was a privilege to have known him.”
DM industry chiefs pay tribute to Lester Wunderman
Industry chiefs lead the tributes to Rosemary Smith
Industry award launched to honour Rosemary Smith
Industry chiefs pay tribute to ‘inspirational’ Rick Pullan
Industry tributes pour in for ‘vibrant’ Jo Howard-Brown
Industry tributes flood in for ‘inspirational’ Lloyd James