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Farewelling Roger Dickinson—an advertising giant

Advertising is famously populated with characters. The cliche is that of the ruthless, dashing fellow, characterised by Don Draper in the TV show Mad Men. There are the Machiavellian, the tortured and insecure, the banal and phantasmagoric; the attention seekers and poseurs. And then there are folk like Roger Dickinson.

Roger died over the holidays. He had been ill for many years. His illnesses cut short a fabulous career in advertising in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Roger never succumbed to the worst characteristics one might sometimes encounter in the creative industries.

He was certainly colourful and though his specialty was media direction he was a creative man through and through.

His company was prized by everyone who knew him for his good humour and generosity of spirit.

I worked with Roger at the long defunct agency Hutcheson Knowles Marinkovich (HKM) where he was in charge of media. We remained in contact when he went on to a senior role at Television New Zealand.

When I set out on a whim for the UK in '94 it occurred to me that I knew no-one of any consequence there and resolved to ask friends with important titles and impressive letterheads to write letters of introduction for me.

Though I had left it until the last minute (because I do succumb to some of the creative stereotypes) Roger obliged me in the most touching way. I unearthed his letter yesterday when I heard he had passed and it reminded me perfectly of his manner and charm.

He was a delightful man. I know he will be sorely missed by every one of his family, his many, many friends and former colleagues.

At the service to mark his passing one of his family read Roger's 'Ten Commandments' and they were a heart-warming reminder of how important decent, everyday values are in marketing and marketing communications (I hope to get a copy of them and I'll share them with you when I do).

Roger succeeded in his life because of his values. For him a successful result was important, to be sure he was a businessman, but never without an understanding of what motivated people. So he was perfectly suited to his chosen career. He was a man with integrity. Listening to the eulogies from family and friends his principles plainly prevailed throughout his life. 

So, while we mourn Roger's passing, his legacy is a wonderful reminder that, in the era of intimate media (social media if you will), connecting, communicating, marketing and selling is always, always easier when you genuinely care about the other person - when the transaction has inherent humanity and never cynical.

The best products, ads, designs (or everything we creators do) are expressions of a genuine desire to help others solve their problems.

There was none better at that than Roger Dickinson - a lovely man. Glad to have known him.