On September 4, 2011, we received the very sad news that Hank Bernhard has passed away at the age of 83.
Hank was the founding leader of Ogilvy & Mather Chicago, having been named by David Ogilvy to open our office back in the fall of 1976. Hank’s two partners – and fellow founding fathers – were Bill Whitney and Joel Raphaelson. Many of us have come to know Hank as the first voice and the first face in our “Peach Pie” video which tells the story of how Ogilvy & Mather Chicago came to be. Hank is also the inspiration for our annual “Hankie” Awards, which celebrate the light-hearted spirit for which Hank was known.
It was our collective good fortune to have a visit from Hank and his wife Marie this past January when he came to the office for the filming of the video. It was my only meeting with Hank, but his legend certainly preceded him. He joined Ogilvy in 1960, personally recruited by Jock Elliot and David Ogilvy to run the research department. In 1965, he moved to Germany to head up Ogilvy’s European offices before returning to the US in 1976 to open and run the Chicago office. In 1981, he returned to New York to be vice chairman of domestic operations. During his tenure, he managed clients including Shell, Mercedes, American Express, Unilever, Gillette, Mars Pet Foods, Cessna Aircraft, RC Cola and Sears.
Hank was a man of large stature and boundless charisma, who embodied everything which David Ogilvy believed an effective leader must have. Several of his partners have shared their reflections of Hank.
Bill Whitney: “His vision, energy and leadership were key to the success of the Chicago office. Hank was bigger than life in many ways. He was a truly great partner. All of us who knew him are saddened to learn of his passing."
Shelly Lazarus: “I loved Hank Bernhard. He made an enormous impression on me when I first joined Ogilvy. He gave new meaning to "larger than life." He made it exciting to work in the company and the industry. He will never be forgotten.”
And finally, Joel Raphaelson: “He was big physically, big-hearted, and big in his interest in and knowledge of every aspect of our trade. When he returned to New York from Chicago I toasted him along these lines: ‘I will miss a friend. I will miss the best boss I ever had. I will miss a typographer; a film editor; a cameraman; a grammarian; a proof-reader; a set designer; a salesman; a strategist; a researcher; an encyclopedia.’"
We mourn his passing while at the same time carrying his legacy forward with great pride and deep love.
President, Ogilvy & Mather Chicago