Today is Lester Wunderman‘s birthday (June 22, 1920). Mr Wunderman is arguably one of the greatest marketing geniuses of our time. He is widely considered the creator of modern-day direct marketing. His innovations include the magazine subscription card, the toll-free 1-800 number, and loyalty rewards programs. He identified, named, and defined the term “direct marketing” in a 1967 speech at MIT, and was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 1998.
He’s got a great personal site: Link
Mr Wunderman was responsible for developing and/or promoting the Columbia Record Club; the 1-800 toll-free number for businesses (developed for a Toyota campaign); the magazine subscription card; and the postal ZIP code system. A long-time relationship with American Express also led to the first customer rewards program — a breakthrough means of keeping customers loyal to a brand that has since transformed the travel and retail industries.
Les is 97 — I had the opportunity to meet with him a couple of times in the old Y&R office on Madison Avenue in 2011/2012 (where my Dad worked!) and he was charming, bright, and generous.
If you haven’t read his his book “Being Direct: Making Advertising Pay,” you should — it’s a classic of the genre, and an important guideline to understanding how to sell at scale.
He is truly one of the Ad Greats. Happy Birthday sir.
#madmen #advertising @LesterWunderman #LesterWunderman #BeingDirect