Lester Wunderman—consultant, professor, author and photographer—is chairman emeritus and founder of Wunderman. He believes, “If there is a lesson to be learned, it is to not do anything half-heartedly. If you’re going to do it at all, give it all you have to give.”
Mr. Wunderman is an advertising legend and the pioneering father of direct marketing. The visionary marketing techniques he conceived and perfected over his long and brilliant career transformed the advertising industry and continue to shape the interactive marketplace.
After an apprenticeship served at several agencies, Mr. Wunderman joined Maxwell, Sackheim & Company in 1947, where he became executive vice president.In 1958, he founded Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline, now known as Wunderman.
In 1967, in an address at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Wunderman identified, named and defined “Direct Marketing” and has led the theoretical and practical growth of the industry ever since. He has received many awards and tributes from the direct marketing industry, including inductions into the Direct Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame in 1983, and the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame.
His book, Being Direct, was published by Random House in January 1997, reissued in 2004 with new information, including the first-ever Consumer’s Communications Bill of Rights and his views on the Internet, and issued as an e-book in 2011, with a special message for a new generation of readers. An earlier book, Frontiers of Direct Marketing, published in 1981, and many of his speeches are now part of the Wunderman Archives at Duke University’s Hartman Center for Sales and Marketing History.
Mr. Wunderman became fascinated by photography many years ago, studying at The New School in New York City and working privately with several well-known photographers. Years ago, he met regularly with Cornell Capa, Carl Katz and Jacqueline Kennedy to discuss the possibility of a professional school of photography. And so the International Center of Photography was born, and has thrived ever since.
His photographs have been on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with his collection of Dogon sculpture, which he donated, and 50 photographs remain in its permanent collection. In addition, his photographs have become part of the permanent collection in the Dapper Foundation in Paris, now part of the Louvre.
A native New Yorker born in the Bronx, Mr. Wunderman and his wife, Sue (Cott), make their home in Manhattan.