World’s most influential copywriter Julian Koenig dies

Unknown-5That’s a big claim isn’t it? But Julian Koenig (left), who has died aged 93, was the man who wrote the celebrated ‘Think Small’ campaign (below) for Volkswagen and agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. This was in an era when American cars (and cars sold in America) were synonymous with size.

And it was this DDB campaign, which also included famous ads like ‘Lemon,’ which transformed (some of) the ad world from research-driven boasters to people who tried to communicate with people as they were (not how they’d like them to be), even using the truth occasionally.

It’s probably never been bettered.

This shocked Madison Avenue, as Don Draper and pals acknowledge here.

Don’t think Koenig would have got a job at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, bigger fools them.

He went on to be a founder of Papert Koenig Lois (PKL) with the extravagant George Lois, the first quoted ad agency. But his VW work (and DDB) changed advertising for ever. Famous British agencies including CDP, BMP (now part of DDB) and Saatchi & Saatchi would not have happened in the same way without him.

(I’m indebted, by the way, to my friend Martin Hedges for this intelligence. Martin’s new book The Day They Hanged A Banker is out now).

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.