Wunderman Retires

The man credited with coining the term “direct marketing” retired last week after more than 50 years in the business.
Citing a desire to move on, direct marketing heavyweight Lester Wunderman, 77, has stepped down as chairman of Wunderman Cato Johnson [Adweek, Jan. 19].
“It’s a mature agency and it’s in good hands,” said Wunderman of the Young & Rubicam subsidiary. “It’s got great clients. It’s satisfying.”
Wunderman, who was also a director of Dentsu Wunderman Direct in Japan, has received numerous awards for his work in direct marketing and is the author of two books on the subject. He said his plans include teaching a class at New York University and writing another book. “I also want to do some personal consulting. I love to solve problems,” he said.
In 1958, he founded Wunderman Ricotta & Kline, which eventually became Wunderman Cato Johnson. The agency grew to 65 offices in 39 countries and annual billings of over $1.8 billion.
Wunderman said he came up with the name “direct marketing” in 1961, a term that later was read into the Congressional Record.
“The concept was never organized,” he said. “[Direct marketing] was out there. I didn’t invent it, but it had no definition and it had no strategy.”
Barbara Jack, WCJ Worldwide’s chief executive officer, said there were no immediate plans to fill Wunderman’s position and there will be no managerial changes.
“Lester is irreplaceable,” she said. “He has taught us a lot about the power of ideas and the fact that you have to have a new one every day. I’m proud to call him my mentor and my friend.”