The DRTV industry lost one of its early pioneers when Paul Stewart passed away last month, of a sudden heart attack. At the time of his death, Stewart was a partner with PKM Direct Marketing, a direct marketing consulting firm. He was 61.
“Paul was one of the most creative geniuses,” said Michael Hepple, a partner of PKM Direct Marketing. “Everybody loved working with him because of his sense of humor and his inventiveness.”
Others in the DRTV industry echoed similar sentiments.
“He brought a lot of vision to the DRTV industry,” said Russ Komalsky, a former colleague, who is now president of exercise company Kathy Smith's Lifestyle, formerly known as Body Vision. “He came into meetings like a whirlwind, full of ideas and creative energy, and out of that came great direction.”
Stewart will probably be best remembered by DRTV insiders for his work in founding Time Life Music in 1982 and Time Life Video in 1986. Stewart was considered the mastermind behind one of Time Life Music's biggest sellers, the “Rock and Roll Music Collection.”
“He was the creator of the original collection released in the mid 80s,” Hepple said. “All of the others were originally derived from it. Paul was the one who conceived it and stood behind it.”
Personally, Stewart was an aficionado of music.
“Paul loved all kinds of music,” Hepple said. “Sometimes, riding in his car, Paul would listen to rock and roll, sometimes he would listen to country and other times it would be swing and big band.”
Stewart's professional career began in 1958, when he began working for the Record, the daily newspaper in Bergen County, NJ, as a city reporter. He left publishing to become a buyer for Bloomingdale's in New York, where he stayed for two years. From 1961 to 1967, he worked for magazine Sports Illustrated, New York, as a researcher, writer and reporter. In 1967 he first started working for Time Life Books, New York, as a publicity writer, then became a copywriter the following year. Stewart became the promotions director for Time Life Books in 1972.
Between 1976 and 1979, Stewart was a member of the board of directors and the corporate secretary for Time Life Books while fulfilling his duties as promotions director. He was named director of marketing for Time Life Books in 1979, where he worked until 1982. He moved to the company's Alexandria, VA office in 1982 and became president of Time Life Music. In 1989 he became president of Time Life Entertainment, which consists of Time Life Video and Home Video and Time Life Music.
In 1991, Stewart was appointed vice chairman of Time Life Inc., and in 1992 he was named executive vice president of Time Warner Music Enterprises.
In addition to the “Rock and Roll Music Collection,” Mr. Stewart's DRTV campaigns for “Ken Burn's Civil War Series” are also among his greatest successes.
“Paul's historical perspective on what works and what doesn't work is an invaluable resource,” as stated in his corporate profile for PKM Direct Marketing. “Paul's 30 years of direct response marketing have included a strong focus on continuity, infomercial, single shots and sets marketing where he has been the creative force in the development of products and their marketing campaigns.”
Colleagues say Stewart was very devoted to his family. He was a soccer coach and enjoyed swimming. Surviving Stewart are his wife Vivienne, and five children, Colin, Caitlin, Tamsyn, Campbell and Christopher.