Adweek Co-Founder W. Pendleton Tudor Dies at 89

He was among the first to flag the 'Americanization of Madison Avenue'

Pen Tudor (r.) with Adweek co-founders Jack Thomas (l.) and Kenneth Fadner in 1990 Courtesy of Mark G. Thomas

W. Pendleton Tudor, one of the three executives who founded Adweek in 1979, died Tuesday in Montecito, Calif. His children Beth and Doug were with him. Tudor was 89 years old.

A nationally recognized marketing and publishing executive, Tudor was born on March 5, 1930, and despite his courtly name, most everyone just called him Pen. A gifted salesman, Tudor came up through Time Inc. before launching Adweek under the aegis of A/S/M Communications, a company he founded with fellow publishing veterans Kenneth Fadner, who today runs MediaPost, and Jack Thomas, who died in 2015.

Adweek grew from the union of three regional publications: Los Angeles’ MAC (Media, Agencies, Clients), ANNY (Advertising News of New York) and Chicago-based SAM (Serving Advertising in the Midwest). As the 1970s drew to a close, Tudor was among the executives who saw that advertising was evolving from a regional industry to a national one, and he viewed Adweek as a part of the “Americanization of Madison Avenue.”

“Our aim is to offer a unique blend of national and local news to suit the particular interests and special concerns of readers and advertisers in each section of the country,” Tudor said in a joint statement in the inaugural issue of Nov. 19, 1979.

“Pen Tudor was a friend to all he met and an exceptional partner to have when he, Jack Thomas and I started Adweek,” Fadner said today. “He was gregarious, elegant, honorable and a great gentleman—at all times, in all places.”

Tudor would stick with the magazine he created for close to two decades. Thomas referred to Tudor as “the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of Adweek,” a compliment presumably referring as much to his talents as his connections. “He knows so many people,” Thomas added.

At the time of Tudor’s retirement in 1997, Western International Media CEO Dennis Holt hailed him as “a morally straight human being.”

“Whether or not you’ve worked with him in a business or social relationship, you always sense that wonderful, positive aura,” Holt said. “You know that you are with a man you can trust.”

“Pen Tudor was not only a dear friend, but a wonderful and wise business advisor,” added Bert Decker, a bestselling author and the chair of Decker Communications, on whose board Tudor served. “I had the opportunity to observe his wisdom and character and integrity firsthand. Yes, he was a great businessman, but even more so a great person. He was patient and humble and kind, and loved to be with people.”

In his retirement years, Tudor worked on his golf game and stayed active in educational and philanthropic causes. He sat on the board of advisors of Westmont College, a Christian liberal arts school near Santa Barbara. Tudor’s wife, Mary Alice, whom he married in 1961, died in 2018.

@UpperEastRob Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.