Tribute by Matthew Bull

I read today that Tony Koenderman had passed away.

If ever there was a man who earned the mantle “legend”, it was Koenders.

I recall the first time I spoke to him as a wiseass creative director at Tholet Sievers, telling him how great we were. He calmly told me he would reserve judgement. Which, in a sense, epitomised the man. He had values, principles. He was not one for the flamboyant, off-the-cuff, flavour of the month. He was studied, meticulous, professional. But he knew what he liked. And what he liked were companies, people, work that tried to do things of exceptional value, things of substance.

I learned a great deal from him. I had a propensity to shoot my mouth off in those early days and a man of lesser integrity could have burned me on the page, had he so chosen to. Instead, he would advise me against certain statements, certain provocations — even though there is little doubt he could have taken advantage of them.

He was an incredible and unstinting supporter of our industry — the very best part of our industry. He believed fervently in the power of creativity to positively transform companies, brands, lives. Thanks to him, in the ’90s and 2000s, he gave us a collective identity as an industry through AdFocus and AdReview. As an agency owner and leader, I can tell you that I had no prouder a moment than when our agency won Agency of The Year. And no more disappointing a moment when we didn’t. Because I knew that Tony would have been ethical and exceptionally diligent in ensuring his fellow judges took in all the information, all the facts, before deciding.

Much like he would do when he wrote an article.

I have missed Tony immensely as a business associate for the last decade; I have yet to meet a journalist globally that could hold a torch to his journalistic and human abilities.

I know I speak for an entire industry when I say he will be, and has been, sorely missed. A great champion has left us. But may his legacy inspire others forever.

My condolences to all his loved ones, of which I know there were many.

Matthew Bull | New York chief creative officer | mcgarrybowen


Industry reaction on Twitter


Announcement by family

The family of veteran industry journalist, editor and commentator, Tony Koenderman, has announced that he passed away on Sunday evening, 9 April 2017, from complications that arose after an operation for a broken leg and an extended stay in ICU.

“Tony loved the advertising and marketing industry and nothing gave him greater joy or pride than to have played a role in it for over 30 years,” writes his daughter, Samantha Koenderman. “He founded AdFocus, then AdReview, and over the years had a weekly column at Financial Mail and FinWeek. He was a perfectionist and always pushed himself to compete, not against others, but against himself.

“As much as he loved journalism, his greatest pleasure was the friends he made in the industry and the people he met. His face lit up when he spoke about conversations he’d had with Graham Warsop, Andy Rice, the ever-generous Ken Varejes and other advertising heavyweights. And he always had a glint in his eye when he heard about the antics of advertising’s more-rebellious creatives. He was a loved husband, father, friend and member of the advertising industry. He will be sorely missed.”

Koenderman is survived by his wife Christine and his children Tonya, Samantha and Gregory. Information about his funeral will follow.

Condolences to Tony’s friends and family from the team at MarkLives.

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