Happy Birthday Mr Wunderman

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