Dr Paul Priday – creative director, thinker, diversity advocate – dies aged 71

Dr Paul Priday, co-founder of Begg Dow Priday and then national creative director of J. Walter Thompson who later embedded himself in agencies to explore gender roles in adland, has died aged 71.

Paul Priday: “a genuine advertising gentleman”.

Dr Priday charted an awarded creative career through a number of agencies including Massius Wynne Williams,  Begg Dow Priday with Austin Begg and Rob Dow and then McSpedden Carey with Bani McSpedden and Peter Carey. He was national creative director of JWT after BDP was bought by JWT.

He also contributed to the industry as chair of AWARD and continued to mentor younger creatives throughout his career.

After stepping away from advertising, Priday embarked on a PHD at Sydney University and embedded himself in two of Australia’s largest advertising agencies for his thesis to understand how women were treated in the creative side of the industry.

Inspired to discover if the role of women portrayed in the hit show Mad Men continued to exist, Dr Priday observed McCann and M&C Saatchi as well as overseas agencies, coming to the conclusion that many of the barriers for women in the creative industry continued, even as the industry strove to make diversity a priority.

His controversial findings added to the debate on why few women in the Australian industry rise to creative leadership roles and the story became one of the most discussed on Mumbrella so far this year.

Dr Priday’s creative work spanned a range of accounts including driving SPC Baked Beans and Spaghetti to second place behind Heinz with the memorable jingle “SPC baked beans and spaghetti for hungry little human beans” and driving the Bob Jane T Marts business to national prominence.

The agency also put Monbulk Jams on the Australian map with a simple and eloquent campaign created with a budget of just $3400 and the tagline “The fruit you see is the fruit you’ll taste”.

Austin Begg, Dr Priday’s friend and partner at BDP, said his nature was almost “ambassadorial”.

“He had a lot of qualities and he was a gentleman in a business with very few of them,” Begg said.

“His main strength was was his ability to simplify and that resulted in Begg Dow Priday winning so many awards.”

Paul Priday (left) with fellow BDP founders Austin Begg and Rob Dow.

Friends described his demeanour in an industry dominated by ego and flamboyance as that of ” a genuine advertising gentleman”.

Tom Dery, worldwide CEO of M&C Saatchi, knew Dr Priday from his formative days in the industry and described him as one of the pioneers of the early Australian independent agencies.

“He was a real advocate for the industry,” Dery told Mumbrella.

“From the mid 70’s he broke out into the independent agency world and led from the forefront with fresh new work.”

John Bevins, a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame, said Dr Priday had played a formative role in helping nurture talent in the industry.

“We each have our band of inspirers, people we admire and try to emulate as we go through our careers and lives,” Bevins said.

“Prominent among mine was Paul Priday—from the very early days.

“Begg Dow Priday, with its young creative director pumped out into the Australian ad scene a sense of vibrant independence that I must have sucked in deeply. As I came to learn that Paul wasn’t what admen are supposed to be, loud and brash and shallow, but in his own very special way exactly the opposite he emerged for me as a proper role model. Albeit one I was to meet with far too infrequently.”

Ray Black, who established AWARD school more than 30 years ago to nurture advertising talent, said Dr Priday was an adman focused on getting results for clients.

“It’s not easy to sum someone up with one or two words, but I would say ethical with integrity,” Black said.

Dr Priday is survived by his wife Margot and daughter Polly who have asked that in lieu for flowers donations in the memory of Dr Paul Priday can be made to the Unicorn Foundation to fight cancer.


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