Sadly, Phil Dusenberry Leaves Advertising at 71

phil_dusenberry_office.jpg

This is personally sad. Not because I knew the guy but because I read a book of his (one of the few ad books I've made time to read) and feel like I know him. Yes, Phil Dusenberry, a man I never knew but a legend in the advertising world died at 71 December 29 after fighting lung cancer for the past year.

Dusenberry was a star at BBDO who many credit with turning BBDO into the creative powerhouse it was and, in some cases, still is. He of Michael Jackson Pepsi fame and creator of many memorable taglines such as GE's We Bring Good Things to Life, Dusenberry began his career in the Mad Men days of 1962 as a junior copywriter at BBDO. Apart from a seven year stint running his own shop, Dusenberry spent his entire career at BBDO rising through the ranks until he became Chairman of BBDO's North American operations.

The Book I read, Then We Set His Hair on Fire: Insights and Accidents from a Hall-of-Fame Career in Advertising captured the notion and power of insight as progenitor to a great idea. The notion is a simple one and not rocket science but Dusenberry did a nice job discussing it while interspersing it with war stories from his long career.

His work, and much of BBDO's work, has, most of the time, been celebrity-laden which, in hindsight, is quite apropos to Dusenberry's own celebrity status within the industry. may he rest in peace and may we remember him fondly.

by Steve Hall    Jan- 1-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies   

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Comments



Comments

I knew Phil briefly if 75-77 when he was brought into BBD&0 and I was an account guy on Pepsi. We liked each other, he dated my assistant for a while, he was a very funny unique non corporate guy. He was tough as nails but also very bright and open...you could always talk to him and he would listen and give an intelligent answer. The colorful days of yore no longer exist and it's hard to tell the suits from the creative ones. He was one of those execs who wake up and try and do the right thing they don't always meet with success but they try. Good By Phil, it was fun knowing you. Jonathan Russo

Posted by: Jonathan Russo on January 1, 2008 5:01 PM

"Be Happy, Go Lucky" won TV Guide's commercial of the year (1950). Cheerleaders sang: "Yes, Luckies get our loudest cheers on campus and on dates. With college gals and college guys a Lucky really rates.")

Seven years later Readers Digest's article linking smoking with lung cancer and in the next heartbeat BBDO droped Readers Digest as a client "over the tobacco article".

One month after the RD article appeared
Pope Pius XII suggested that the Jesuit order give up smoking, as they are the shapers of young minds...

Paying for smoking in the visual arts is the single most important ad strategy in 2008 for tobacco companies seeking to entice young people.

Is there a worse death then tobbaco induced disease?
RIP, Mr. Phil Dusenberry. Tough as you were, tobacco proved tougher.

Posted by: arthur on January 2, 2008 10:19 AM

Phil Dusenberry is dead. There goes the neighborhood. One by one the giants are falling from our midsts. You would never know Phil was a giant. When I worked with him on the Jackson's Victory Tour Phil was always accessible and never predictable. Micheal was his worst nightmare. Micheal knew that the Pepsi deal had been shoved down BBDO's throat by Roger Enrico and never let the agency forget it. Even so, Phil was gracious and supportive of all of us in the Tour Marketing structure and sympathetic of the cross we all had to bare in working for the most demanding client the world had ever known. We are diminished by his passing.

Posted by: Harry Webber on January 2, 2008 10:27 AM

Hi, my name is Bjorn and I am from Australia. I was a young kid in college when I crossed paths with Phil Dunsenberry. I met Phil out in East Hampton, NY. Mr. Dusenberry, as I called him, was a very graceful person. He always looked sharp, was very polite, he was a gentleman to a T. Phil was a little bloke like myself but with a big heart. He used his energy to pick people up, not put people down. Meeting Mr. Dusenberry has made me who I am today. I cherish all the memories Phil gave me. I looked up to him as a mentor and will take all the memories of him on my journey in life. When I was in college I struggled. I had no money. Phil gave me money towards my college tuition which has allowed me to stay here and follow my dreams of success. I always told Phil that 'I wanted to be successful.' I wanted to be like him. When Phil gave me the tuition money for me to stay in school I said, 'I donít know how I can repay you.' Phil said, 'Don't worry Bjorn, you can pay me when you are rich and successful.' He believed in me. The fact that Phil believed in me has helped push my burning desire to better myself. It has been a pleasure. Phil, you have been nothing short of magnificent. Fondly, Bjorn...

Posted by: Bjorn on January 2, 2008 9:43 PM

Hi, my name is Bjorn and I am from Australia. I was a young kid in college when I crossed paths with Phil Dunsenberry. I met Phil out in East Hampton, NY. Mr. Dusenberry, as I called him, was a very graceful person. He always looked sharp, was very polite, he was a gentleman to a T. Phil was a little bloke like myself but with a big heart. He used his energy to pick people up, not put people down. Meeting Mr. Dusenberry has made me who I am today. I cherish all the memories Phil gave me. I looked up to him as a mentor and will take all the memories of him on my journey in life. When I was in college I struggled. I had no money. Phil gave me money towards my college tuition which has allowed me to stay here and follow my dreams of success. I always told Phil that 'I wanted to be successful.' I wanted to be like him. When Phil gave me the tuition money for me to stay in school I said, 'I donít know how I can repay you.' Phil said, 'Don't worry Bjorn, you can pay me when you are rich and successful.' He believed in me. The fact that Phil believed in me has helped push my burning desire to better myself. It has been a pleasure. Phil, you have been nothing short of magnificent. Fondly, Bjorn...

Posted by: Bjorn on January 2, 2008 9:43 PM

Hi, my name is Bjorn and I am from Australia. I was a young kid in college when I crossed paths with Phil Dunsenberry. I met Phil out in East Hampton, NY. Mr. Dusenberry, as I called him, was a very graceful person. He always looked sharp, was very polite, he was a gentleman to a T. Phil was a little bloke like myself but with a big heart. He used his energy to pick people up, not put people down. Meeting Mr. Dusenberry has made me who I am today. I cherish all the memories Phil gave me. I looked up to him as a mentor and will take all the memories of him on my journey in life. When I was in college I struggled. I had no money. Phil gave me money towards my college tuition which has allowed me to stay here and follow my dreams of success. I always told Phil that 'I wanted to be successful.' I wanted to be like him. When Phil gave me the tuition money for me to stay in school I said, 'I donít know how I can repay you.' Phil said, 'Don't worry Bjorn, you can pay me when you are rich and successful.' He believed in me. The fact that Phil believed in me has helped push my burning desire to better myself. It has been a pleasure. Phil, you have been nothing short of magnificent. Fondly, Bjorn...

Posted by: Bjorn on January 2, 2008 9:44 PM

Hi, my name is Bjorn and I am from Australia. I was a young kid in college when I crossed paths with Phil Dunsenberry. I met Phil out in East Hampton, NY. Mr. Dusenberry, as I called him, was a very graceful person. He always looked sharp, was very polite, he was a gentleman to a T. Phil was a little bloke like myself but with a big heart. He used his energy to pick people up, not put people down. Meeting Mr. Dusenberry has made me who I am today. I cherish all the memories Phil gave me. I looked up to him as a mentor and will take all the memories of him on my journey in life. When I was in college I struggled. I had no money. Phil gave me money towards my college tuition which has allowed me to stay here and follow my dreams of success. I always told Phil that 'I wanted to be successful.' I wanted to be like him. When Phil gave me the tuition money for me to stay in school I said, 'I donít know how I can repay you.' Phil said, 'Don't worry Bjorn, you can pay me when you are rich and successful.' He believed in me. The fact that Phil believed in me has helped push my burning desire to better myself. It has been a pleasure. Phil, you have been nothing short of magnificent. Fondly, Bjorn...

Posted by: Bjorn on January 2, 2008 9:44 PM

Hi, my name is Bjorn and I am from Australia. I was a young kid in college when I crossed paths with Phil Dunsenberry. I met Phil out in East Hampton, NY. Mr. Dusenberry, as I called him, was a very graceful person. He always looked sharp, was very polite, he was a gentleman to a T. Phil was a little bloke like myself but with a big heart. He used his energy to pick people up, not put people down. Meeting Mr. Dusenberry has made me who I am today. I cherish all the memories Phil gave me. I looked up to him as a mentor and will take all the memories of him on my journey in life. When I was in college I struggled. I had no money. Phil gave me money towards my college tuition which has allowed me to stay here and follow my dreams of success. I always told Phil that 'I wanted to be successful.' I wanted to be like him. When Phil gave me the tuition money for me to stay in school I said, 'I donít know how I can repay you.' Phil said, 'Don't worry Bjorn, you can pay me when you are rich and successful.' He believed in me. The fact that Phil believed in me has helped push my burning desire to better myself. It has been a pleasure. Phil, you have been nothing short of magnificent. Fondly, Bjorn...

Posted by: Bjorn on January 2, 2008 9:46 PM

Phil once told Hal Riney that I was responsible for him being in the business. I wasn't. Phil's work as a copywriter at the same Long Island radio station (WGSM) that I had come out of stood for itself.

But when he brought his audio tape and a Wallensack recorder to my cubicle at 385 Madison Avenue and played 10 of the best radio spots I'd ever heard, I went to Art Bellaire and told him we had to hire this guy who was "afraid of calling Doyle Dane because he wasn't good enough".

And years later, my ex called after seeing "The Natural" credits and said: "Is that the same guy who used to call you at 10pm and read a commercial he had to present to his group head the next day?"

It was. And the concepts of this "junior copywriter" were unbelievable.

Ron Armstrong

Posted by: Ron Armstrong on January 2, 2008 11:10 PM

Note to Ron Armstrong
I read your comment above with interest. My father, Art Bellaire passed away a year ago. Are you saying that my father hired Phil Dusenberry based on your recommendation? Wow :) My dad also had the pleasure of working with Hal Riney when he was working at BBDO SF - BBDO has been workplace / home to some great folks :)

Posted by: Barbara Bellaire Christian on January 17, 2008 10:54 PM





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