Late but great: Bob Stone

Bob Stone’s passing last week deprived the direct marketing industry of a person who gave as much as he received. Adman, author, educator, mentor and family man: What more does a great person’s curriculum vitae need?

Mr. Stone was cut from the same cloth as his agency world contemporaries – Lester Wunderman, Stan Rapp, Tom Collins, David Ogilvy, Alvin Eicoff, Bob Kestnbaum, Murray Roman, Robert L. Hemmings, Jim Kobs, Joan Throckmorton, Robert F. Dale, Lois K. Geller, Edward L. Nash, Leonard J. Raymond, John Caples and, yes, Howard Draft.

Many of these agency leaders are still with us, known to the veterans and worthy of knowing to the younger generation of direct and interactive marketing practitioners. These executives and others changed direct marketing and laid the foundation for most of today’s customer acquisition and retention strategies and tactics. What sets Mr. Stone and his aforementioned peers apart is that they went on to institutionalize practices and share them with others. They pushed the envelope for clients and encouraged their colleagues. They participated in industry events as speakers and exhibitors. They wrote books and articles. Mr. Stone’s effort with Mr. Jacobs was called simply “Successful Direct Marketing Methods.” Caples along with Fred E. Hahn wrote “Trusted Advertising Methods.” Mr. Wunderman penned “Being Direct: Making Advertising Pay.” Mr. Rapp and Mr. Collins had the bestselling “MaxiMarketing” series to their name. Mr.

Nash authored “Direct Marketing: Strategy/Planning/Execution.” Ms. Geller has her own contribution, “Direct Marketing Techniques: Building Your Business Using Direct Mail and Direct Response Advertising.” And let’s not forget “Ogilvy on Advertising” – a must- read for novices and veterans.

We hope that someone has had the foresight to request the Stone family to save Mr. Stone’s papers and work. That collection would make an ideal start to what this writer had proposed in an earlier editorial: the need for the Museum of Direct Marketing.

Mr. Stone’s passing at 88 is a loss indeed. The question is, where are today’s equivalents to Mr. Stone and these legends of the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s? Are we so consumed in our careers and the day-to- day concerns of our lives that we forget it’s only in sharing that we receive? There is such great direct and interactive marketing talent out there. It needs to step out of the shadows. It needs to speak its name. It needs to heed Churchill: “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it.”

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