Vale Ian Kennedy 'Father of Direct Marketing'

Kennedy_LL_web_BAD-550x403 (1).jpgOften referred to as the 'Father of Direct Marketing in Australia', many in the industry will be saddened to hear of the passing of Ian Kennedy after a long battle with illness.

During a career spanning more than three decades, Ian was named AustralianIan Kennedy Marketing.jpg Direct Marketer of the Year and inducted into the Australian Direct Marketing Hall of Fame. For over 10 years he was a member of the International Advisory Board of the Direct Marketing Association of America.

In 1972 he founded Bond International, a company that became the largest Australian independent direct marketing organisation of its kind. In the early days of relationship marketing in Australia, Ian drove such projects as the membership acquisition for Diners Club, building the first loyalty database for Qantas, launching the State Bank's first ATM card and developing the first direct response TV campaign for AMP.

As a consultant in 1995, Ian formed the first integrated direct marketing resource of any major Australian agency. He built for George Patterson one of the largest DM groups in the country with over 80 direct marketing specialists in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
He is the co-author, with Bryce Courtenay, of the best selling book 'The Power of One to One' which reached the Australian non-fiction top 10 list. The book is about Ian's lifetime of experiences in marketing.

Apart from his achievements in business, Ian was also the President of the Starlight Children's Foundation and directed the marketing and fund-raising since its inception in 1988.

A wake for friends and colleagues of Ian will be held at the Royal Sydney Golf Club at 2pm on Tuesday 29 May.

Here, Douglas Nicol, director and creative partner at The Works shares his thoughts on his long-time friend and mentor.

It seemed appropriate to write Ian a farewell letter, given he was the original pioneer of direct marketing in Australia. I have no doubt that if, given the chance, he would ask for extensive amends to my letter as it could 'work harder', but hopefully he would enjoy the spirit of its content.

Dear Ian

You left our lives this week after a hell of a fight with ill health. You fought to the end because you are brilliantly strong willed and determined to make your own choices in life. But it's not the end that we will remember, we will remember a life incredibly well lived.

You were the original modern Australian entrepreneur, always having seemingly crazy ideas for startup businesses and having the guts to back your hunch that there was money to be made from an idea written as a scribble on a piece of paper. No fancy business plan, no consultants or VC funding. Just an intuitive understanding of people and their needs. You usually made a lot of money from these ventures. However, I do remember you significantly over ordered a mail order 'Limited Edition Pope Soap on a Rope' for the Popes 1995 visit to Australia and were left with thousands unsold. So everyone involved spent the next 24 months showering every morning in the company of John Paul II.

We started to work together in 1991 at your pioneering DM agency Bond Direct and over time you became a mentor to me. Yes, you taught me so much about direct marketing, but you taught me something more important about business: common sense is in short supply in this world and if you politely speak the truth and cut back the bullshit you get the right outcome for a business. You taught me to be intolerant of long meetings that skirt around the real issues. You showed that its ok to be blunt but constructive and to be always be commercially minded.

We had the best of times for 10 years building the direct marketing team at George Patterson, working with a talented group of wonderful people and working on amazing opportunities like selling the tickets to the 2000 Olympics and launching a new Telco called Optus. We laughed every day because you were a born comedian.

There was nothing you liked better than walking into a client meeting and dropping an 'Ian hand grenade', an outrageous provocation that usually reshaped the conversation into a much better, more commercial, more productive conversation. Occasionally your hand grenades would spectacularly fail and we would be left scrambling to fix things up.

Watching your extraordinary presentations at conferences had a seminal impact on me, you taught me everything about effective presenting and that entertainment trumps information in a good presentation. Today I love presenting to big crowds and this is thanks to you.

Your life is a legendary life and I am so privileged to have been a small part of it. You have shaped so many professional lives, a whole generation of marketers, teaching us the value of values and hard work.

On behalf of everyone who you have mentored and nurtured over the years I say thank you, we're better human beings for having known you.

I know you would want us to be happy sad about your passing and remember the many good times and the life lessons you taught us.

Farewell my friend,

Douglas. 

2 Comments

stuart said:

A true legend, and lovely words Douglas.

Laurel Jackson said:

Ian mentored me and encouraged me when I was a young DM practitioner. We delivered some very fun seminars together for AMP agents. I particularly remember one in Mackay QLD with 110 AMP insurance agents from northern QLD.
I have never laughed so much.
I learned so much from you Ian . rest well lovely man.
Laurel

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