Who Is The Fairfax Cone Of 21st-Century Marketing?

Or the David Ogilvy . . . or the Bill Bernbach . . . or the Rosser Reeves . . . or even the Lester Wunderman? All of these Mad Men played outsized roles in laying down the rules of advertising and marketing that have dominated the craft for the past half century.

I've been wondering more and more about who among today's marketing leaders will join this pantheon as I see marketing diverging from the tenets I was schooled in during my early ad agency career.

Apparently, Interpublic has decided that Howard Draft isn't among them, since they have removed his name from the door, reverting from Draftfcb to FCB -- or even the original Foote, Cone, Belding name. Their rationale was to simplify the name, but then they go on to say they will still append the geography (FCB Chicago), the specialty (FCB Health), the name of acquired agencies (FCB Inferno), or even "a highly respected creative leader" (FCB Garfinkel). Yeah, that's a lot simpler. And I guess a leader who takes the agency in a new direction and shakes up an entire industry doesn't make the cut. Sorry, Howard.

I worked for Howard in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He had a vision for the complementary role that classic direct marketing could play with branding, and he hired me to develop programs with our then-sister agency Backer Spielvogel Bates. It was still early days in "integrated marketing" and a tough sell, so we had a couple of successes and a lot of frustrations! Howard also envisioned how data and technology would propel classic direct marketing, and he built an analytics and technology consulting practice in those early days. It gave me my first exposure to a predictive response model in a project for the US Armed Forces. Then, of course, he engineered the merger of Draft and FCB in 2006, dramatically obliterating the "line" between "above the line" and "below the line" activities.

I'll leave it to historians to determine if Howard deserves a place in the pantheon of marketing innovators. But I hope they give him his due for the mark he and his agencies have left on the business.

Who do you think are the leaders defining new marketing rules and practices in the Age of the Customer?

Whom would you nominate as the New Mad Men to join this pantheon? Join my discussion of the New Mad Men . . .