David N. Martin, a co-founder of The Martin Agency, died Tuesday at his home in Richmond, Va., at the age of 82 after a battle with cancer. On Wednesday, his former agency saluted his memory with a tribute ad, playing off one of his great early successes—the "Virginia is for lovers" campaign, which launched in 1969 and became one of the most celebrated tourism slogans of all time.
Martin graduated from Hampden Sydney College in 1952 and went on to found what was first called Martin & Woltz, with his partner George Woltz, in 1965. The name was changed to The Martin Agency in 1975. Martin retired from the company in 1989 and went on to found two other marketing firms in Richmond. The agency that still bears his name remains a strong and creative national player—counting Geico, Walmart, Hanes and Comcast among its major clients.
"Dave was the living embodiment of the classic, American entrepreneurial spirit," said John B. Adams Jr., chairman and CEO of The Martin Agency. "I had the great gift of seeing Dave and filming an interview with him recently for the agency archives. I asked him what wish he had for our employees today and for the people who will join our company in the years ahead. He said, 'Be true to yourself. If you're not true to yourself you have nothing.' He urged Martin employees to continue to produce advertising, in all its forms, that is different, vibrant and better."