Founder of Wunderman, Lester Wunderman, passes away

Les Wunderman, the founder of advertising agency Wunderman, has passed away from natural causes at the age of 98.

Wunderman himself is considered by many to be the founder of modern-day direct marketing, with the agency noting how he transformed the market.

Wunderman passed away on 9 January

“A trailblazer in the advertising industry, Mr Wunderman launched a new kind of advertising industry in 1958 – one that focused on delivering sales for its clients. The agency concept caught on and led to the creation of today’s trillion-dollar direct marketing industry. The visionary marketing techniques he conceived and perfected over his long and brilliant career transformed the advertising industry and continue to shape the interactive marketplace,” the agency said in a statement.

Wunderman launched the agency in 1958 and stepped down from the top job in 1998, however he continued as chairman emeritus and would frequently visit the offices, the agency said.

Wunderman, Ricotta & Klein, as it was then known, was acquired by Young & Rubicam in 1973. Y&R and its agencies were then acquired by WPP in 2000.

Late last year, it was revealed Y&R would merge with VML to form VMLY&R, while Wunderman joined forces with JWT to form Wunderman Thompson.

Current CEO of Wunderman Mel Edwards praised Wunderman’s unique abilities.

“Lester possessed the curiosity of a scientist, an artist’s eye, the soul of an author and the heart of an entrepreneur,” she said.

WPP’s CEO Mark Read added: “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.”

The agency said its thoughts are with Wunderman’s family.


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