A Legend’s Legacy

Another one of direct marketing’s giants has left us.  Bob Stone, who co-founded one the great direct marketing ad agencies, died last month at 88.

The author of what many consider “the Bible” of all direct marketing texts, “Successful Direct Marketing Methods,” Mr. Stone took it upon himself to mentor young DMers.  I was fortunate enough to be among them.

I first met Mr. Stone when he taught a class on direct marketing copy during a week-long conference I attended in 1988 sponsored by the Direct Marketing Education Foundation.  I was struck immediately by his down-to-earth attitude and willingness to stick around and answer a bunch of naive, basic questions from an inspired group of young future direct marketing professionals.  I still have a personally autographed copy of the fourth edition of his book in my library.

And then I ran into Bob again ten years later at the DMA conference in Toronto.  I was with my boss, Grant Johnson, and we had just left the Convention Center to find that the last bus filled with attendees had just pulled away.  I was ready to hail a cab when out of the corner of my eye I saw an older gentleman strolling down the sidewalk.  I glanced at him briefly … but then something made me look again.  “My goodness,” I said to my boss.  “That’s Bob Stone!”  Even though Bob Stone was one of Grant’s idols, my boss bet me a Moosehead that it wasn’t him. I approached Bob and reintroduced myself to him.  I doubt that he remembered me.  Grant was stunned that the DMA hadn’t gotten Bob a limo to take him back to his hotel.

Grant asked if we could pay for his cab ride back to the hotel, and then beamed all the way as Bob told him he had heard good things about him and Johnson Direct.  He even told us some war stories from the good ole days of DM!  He was very appreciative as he got out of the cab and handed each of us one of his business cards.  Bob told us not to hesitate to call him for advice any time.

Man, the Moosehead tasted good that night!

Bob Stone was a giant in our industry, but he was still down-to-earth, friendly and willing to share his knowledge with anyone who was interested.  He never let his ego get in the way.  He was a rare breed, indeed, and he will be missed!

I wish you all could have known him.

Rob Trecek

Johnson Direct LLC