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Carter Murray: why Harry MacAuslan is my ad hero

There’s a theme emerging already in My Ad Hero: the huge impact some people make with their generosity in terms of time and wisdom. Carter Murray of FCB chooses an accomplished account man, entrepreneur, arts patron and painter.

When Stephen asked me to contribute to “my ad hero” so many people came to mind. One of my good fortunes has been working for and with some pretty exceptional people. But amongst them there is one who has always stood out. Harry MacAuslan (below).

Harry spent much of his career at JWT before I met him in London at Leo Burnett, where he was the vice-chairman and I was running new business for Leo Burnett and Arc in EMEA. Harry is, without a doubt, the gentleman of advertising, in the very best sense of the word, with a passion for the craft, for clients and for those with whom he worked.

When I first met Harry it was at a time in my career when I had just made it to director level, and had gotten there earlier than I had ever imagined I would. I was quite young, managing people significantly older than me, and while brimming with enthusiasm and confidence, adjusting to a more senior role took some time. Harry became instantly the source of all wisdom and advice at a critical time in my career, and the kindness and thoughtfulness with which he helped me will be something for which I am forever grateful.

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Advertising is about understanding people and one reason that Harry was my hero was because he excelled at this. And he also brought such a unique eccentricity to all he did. His particular obsession with tailored suits always made me chuckle. When the EU directives were banning certain tweeds in Scotland he felt obliged to buy the last remaining bolts to preserve what he could.

But I am trying to find that one word of WHY he was such a hero to me.

Effortless. That’s what it was.

He managed to make it all look effortless : of course it was all about the work; Of course you should make clients love you, you just needed to show integrity and care; Of course you could manage you wife, children, job, hobbies with gusto and make it all look so simple.

I am not a huge fan of too many quotes but I do love Maya Angelou’s “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Harry epitomized what it was to be a leader with integrity and so naturally made everyone feel special and naturally better for being around him.

Carter Murray is worldwide CEO of FCB Global.

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