Marketing “Wunder”man dies at 98

Also known as the “Father of direct marketing” Lester Wunderman died of natural causes at 93 in New York city on January 9.

Lester had created a trillion-dollar industry and was the first to launch a new kind of advertising agency in 1958, one that was highly sales driven. The visionary marketing concept that he conceived has led to the current interactive marketplace.

“Lester was a true visionary with a lifelong commitment to innovation and creativity,” said Mark Read, CEO, WPP. “He will be remembered and respected for his achievements and revered as a friend and colleague.”

Lester leaves behind a wife, Sue and two children, Marc and Karen along with three stepchildren Patrick, James and Thomas. He is also remembered fondly by the people he worked with in the agency that has his name.   

While he left the helm of Wunderman in 1998, he reported to work every day at the agency’s offices, where he often visited with clients, executives and interns alike.

Wunderman was born in 1920 in the Bronx. After an apprenticeship served at several agencies, he joined Maxwell Sackheim & Company in 1947, where he became executive vice president. In 1958, he founded Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline, now known as Wunderman.

In 1967, in an address at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wunderman identified, named and defined direct marketing which led the theoretical and practical growth of the industry ever since. As a result of that speech, he was named “The Father of Direct Marketing.”

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