Copywriting Legend Ed McLean Dies at 77

Longtime copywriter Ed McLean, known for writing Newsweek's most famous control, died Aug. 13 after a long illness. He was 77.

McLean wrote the prospecting letter 45 years ago, shortly after being hired by Newsweek circulation director Arthur “Red” Dembner. Mailed to more than 100 million consumers for nearly two decades, the control is considered to have one of the most copied lead paragraphs. It began:

“Dear Reader: If the list upon which I found your name is any indication, this is not the first — nor will it be the last — subscription letter you receive. Quite frankly, your education and income set you apart from the general population and make you a highly-rated prospect for everything from magazines to mutual funds.”

In his four-decade career, McLean wrote more than 9,000 mailings, direct response print ads, radio spots and inserts, and his ad copy is said to have sold more than $1 billion of products and services. McLean also conducted all-day sessions on copywriting techniques at Direct Marketing Day in New York and taught similar sessions at colleges and universities nationwide.

As per McLean's insistence, there was no funeral or memorial service. He is survived by his wife, Ylavaune of Ghent, NY; and three sons, David of Ghent, James of New York City and William of Virginia.

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