John “Jock” Elliott

John “Jock” Elliott

Everyone loves Christmas. But for Jock Elliott Jr., chairman emeritus of Ogilvy & Mather, the holiday has become more of a study than a celebration. “People think of Christmas as a traditional event, but all the traditions of our modern Christmas—Christmas trees, Christmas cards, presents—were all invented in a 25-year period from 1823 to 1848. Before that, the Christmas we know didn’t exist,” says the 79-year-old former copywriter, who is penning a book about the day. He already owns more than 3,000 first edition books saluting Saint Nick’s birth. The former Marine Corps major who lives in Manhattan with his wife, Eleanor, became an avid collector after retiring nearly 20 years ago. Recruited from BBDO by David Ogilvy in 1960, Elliott succeeded Ogilvy as chairman in 1965 and later as chairman of the worldwide agency. Filling Ogilvy’s role “was a piece of cake,” says Elliott, who was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 1983. “David made it very, very easy. He let people run with the ball, but he was always there to be counted on and to be helpful.” Though he keeps an office at Ogilvy, his energies these days are directed to his work with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Channel Thirteen. “The agency is doing fine without my kvetching,” he says.MagnumMatrixMagnumMagnumMatrix