I was very sad to learn of the recent death of David Abbott.

I was very fortunate to work within British advertising during its heyday when in 1979 I joined CDP/Aspect, a subsidiary of Collett Dickinson & Pearce.  As I had joined the industry at quite a mature age, (30!), the agency sent me on a crash course on advertising at the IPA (The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising). The course covered all aspects of the industry and included guest lectures from some of the industry’s leading lights. The most impressive presentation, by far, was given by David Abbott – founding partner of the recently set-up agency AMV (Abbott Mead Vickers). Abbott impressed me greatly not only by his passion for copywriting but also by his quiet-spoken nature. He exuded decency, creativity and intelligence. His work reflected this and, more importantly I believe, was conceived from the basis of respect for both the client and the customer. In an age when advertising was closely associated with the epithet that ‘greed is good’, David Abbott stood out as one of the industry’s ‘good guys’: a principled practitioner and a copywriter of the highest standard.

Below are links to a couple of David Abbott’s seminal TV adverts from his vast portfolio:

–       ‘J.P. Hartley’ for Yellow Pages. (Link here)

–       Bob Hoskins/’It’s Good To Talk for British Telecom. (Link here)

Below is the introduction of his obituary from The Guardian. (Full text here).

Advertising,” according to the Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock, “is the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.” Maybe, but to David Abbott, who wrote some of Britain’s most memorably intelligent ads, it was more of an art than a science. Or, at least, a very high form of painstakingly executed craft.

In a business that was defined by the curious social dynamic of slumming posh boys mingling with sharp-elbowed wideboys, all knee-deep in money, Abbott, who has died aged 75, was an unusually dignified presence. Whereas Peter Mead, his rambunctious partner in the Abbott Mead Vickers agency, founded in 1977, installed a garish Wurlitzer, Abbott cultivated a donnish, almost sacerdotal, air.

To visit his office was to experience something of the intellectual calm of a tutorial or the moral purgation of a confessional. There were steepled fingers and moments of silent reflection. But in the antic and frantic world of advertising, who is to say what a powerful self-promotional tool quietly spoken and cerebral self-effacement might be? Rivals in other agencies sensed an uncollegiate superiority. 


RIP David Abbott, 1938 – 2014



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