Tribute to Chris Albert, co-founder of WWAVLONDON - Chris Albert, co-founder of WWAV and the former group Executive Creative Director at the agency, died earlier this month from cancer.
Tributes such as this always talk about achievements and awards. It is undoubtedly true that Chris had an amazingly successful career alongside his writing partner John Watson and that the agency they founded with Rinalda Ward in the early 1980s became the leading direct marketing agency of its time. Some of his award winning work was genuinely ground breaking: Lloyds Life ( cash if you die, cash if you don't) and NSPCC TV advertising such as 'Ellie' are the two I remember most vividly. In acknowledgement of this work he was elected to the DMA Roll of Honour.
But the legacy that Chris leaves is far greater than this. Almost every person who came into contact with him remembers Chris as a mentor of creative talent, not only the team he built at WWAV but the young turks who came to him for advice.Chris Barraclough talks about him being as warm-heartedly generous over lunch last year as he had been throughout Chrisís career, even when their agencies were deadly rivals.
I worked with Chris in the mid-Eighties for 18 months. Also at WWAV at the same time was Lesley Mair, who went on to become MD of the agency. You would imagine, therefore, that our memories of Chris would be very different, but whether you were part of the WWAV team or an outsider, Chris treated you in exactly the same way. This is because he was always interested in people and what they were up to, wonderful at keeping in touch and being interested when people moved on to new pastures. Lesley and I describe the same man almost word for word.
If Chris had a weakness it was that he was not always great with clients, but that was because he wanted to fight for what he saw as great DM advertising. I still remember a particularly difficult client insisting that the colour of a brochure was changed and Chrisís determination to protect her from her own mistakes. In a calm way he told me to go to her offices and resign the account because he wasnít having his team criticized and de-motivated in that way. Imagine how surprised and shocked she was that such a charming man could be so tough.
Marketing Direct - April 2008