Winston Fletcher (1937-2012)

At the end of last year we were delighted to welcome a legend in the ad business to the University. He lulled us with tales from the industry and his personal 'Best Ever Ads'. He was a great speaker on the qualities of British advertising and spoke fondly of how, for long periods of the 20th Century, we were envied across the world for our smart strategic thinking and understanding of the people we were speaking to.

Sadly, Winston passed away earlier this month.

This is a great loss to the industry and there is no doubt that he will be missed. He effected the careers of a great deal of household adland names and there is a wonderful article on the Campaign website with testimonials from friends and former colleagues. You can view that here. The Telegraph also produced a thorough obituary which can be read here.

For now though, here is Annie Richardson, Senior Lecturer, reflecting on the day the great Winston Fletcher came to visit.

"On March 15th Professor Winston Fletcher CBE, a leading figure in the advertising industry and author of ‘Powers of Persuasion: the History of British Advertising 1951 – 2000’ (2008) came to give us an inspiring lecture on British Advertising in the second half of the twentieth century.  He did that thing which we ‘Brits’ often find difficult: examined the particularities of British cultural identities.  He showed how the development of commercial television in Britain in the mid 1950s, funded by advertising, partly overcame a deep-seated political and intellectual resistance to what was seen as the encroachment of American values.  In seeking formulae which would work in the challenging visual environment of the 30-second slot-commercial, British agencies gradually rejected the American hard-sell, in favour of qualities which sat more comfortably with a British sens of identity - wit, humour, visual spectacle and even the ‘surreal’ (those glorious ads for Benson and Hedges which hardly featured the product).  This culminated in a golden era in the 1970s and 80s when for the first time Britain overtook the US in winning awards for its ads.  In fairness, of course Professor Fletcher showed that some British agencies continued to favour the hard-sell, and that ‘hucksterism’ is still all too prevalent in times of recession."

Thanks Annie and, of course, Thank You to Winston for giving an inspiring talk and offering so much to an industry our students are working so hard to join.

You will be missed.