Lester Wunderman is an advertising legend, the pioneering father of direct marketing, to whom we owe the ubiquity of the American Express card, the creation of Columbia Record Club, and high profile L.L. Bean. The visionary marketing techniques Wunderman conceived and perfected over his long and brilliant career transformed the advertising industry and will shape the interactive marketplace of the future. Here is his own story, in his own words, of how he did it---how he learned to make advertising pay. Includes a new introduction, direct from the author, which offers a new and relevant lesson about direct marketing in 2011. Proceeds from the sale of the e-book, Being Direct, benefit The Mekong Trust, a not-for-profit organization whose prime purpose is to improve the education and potential employment prospects of underprivileged, isolated children living along a stretch of the Mekong River in Northern Laos.
Born in a Bronx tenement, Wunderman started his own advertising agency with his older brother in 1939, at the age of 19. It went under two years later. With a never-say-die attitude, he learned the ropes, and by 1959, Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline (WRK), which he had founded a year earlier, was the world's largest agency specializing in mail-order advertising. A collector of African art, conversant with Spinoza and Marshall McLuhan, Wunderman credits his 1972 meeting with the chief of Mali's Dogon tribe as the key to his understanding of kinship and power-sharing-insights that led him to merge WRK (now Wunderman Cato Johnson, which he chairs) with a larger general agency, Young & Rubicam. Highly skimpy on personal detail, this career-oriented autobiography is a seasoned pro's detailed casebook of direct-marketing hits and misses. Wunderman's campaigns helped launch the American Express card, boosted Time Inc.'s magazine division circulation, devised interactive media to sell Lincoln Continentals and made the zip code an accepted part of the postal system. His account of these and other legendary feats is high-energy. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.