Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Legendary Bob Stone Has Died

Though not related to systems issues, direct marketing pioneer Bob Stone passed away Feb. 26 after a long career as a practitioner, author, educator and mentor. He was 88. Bob was such a towering figure in this industry that his passing deserves our attention. To quote the DM News coverage of Bob's passing:

Mr. Stone was known for his bestselling book "Successful Direct Marketing Methods" that went into several reprints and influenced many of today’s direct marketing industry executives. He was also co-founder with Aaron Adler of Stone & Adler, a direct marketing agency that elevated direct marketing’s role in the Midwest and with many advertisers.

"Bob and his partner, Aaron, changed the way large corporations – brand marketers – saw direct marketing," said Ron Jacobs, president of Jacobs & Clevenger Inc., Chicago. "Rapp Collins and Wunderman really changed the face of direct marketing. Stone & Adler did it in Chicago."

Stone & Adler’s clients included Amoco Oil Co., AT&T, Allstate, Hewlett Packard, Old American Insurance, Southwestern Bell, United Airlines and Sears, Roebuck & Co. The agency worked with AT&T to publicize the 800 number – an achievement that revolutionized telemarketing and direct response television and radio.

"Bob was a true gentleman in all the ways one can describe – he was kind and generous,” said Lester Wunderman, chairman emeritus and founder of direct marketing agency Wunderman, New York. "He was willing to share his knowledge and taught in the Midwest what we now call direct marketing.

"Chicago was always a center of direct marketing in a mercantile way, when you think of Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward," he said. "But Bob made it into a personal practice. His agency was the agency for the 800 number, and that was perhaps one of the most important contributions. The 800 number made direct marketing possible in contemporary heritage."

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