Lester Wunderman, consultant, professor, author and photographer, is chairman emeritus and founder of Wunderman.
After an apprenticeship at several agencies, Wunderman joined Maxwell Sackheim & Company in 1947, where he became executive vice president. In 1958 he founded Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline, now known as Wunderman.
In 1967 in an address at MIT, Wunderman identified, named and defined direct marketing, and for more than four decades he has led the theoretical and practical growth of the industry. Known as the "father of direct marketing," he has received many awards and tributes from the direct marketing industry including being named to the Direct Marketing Association's Hall of Fame in 1983. He was responsible for developing the Columbia House Record Club and was the first to use magazine subscription cards. Columbia House was the first attempt to combine retail traffic and in-home, mail-order sales. The post-paid insert card he created for Columbia House not only increased sales responses by 500 percent but has also become an institution in the advertising industry.
His book, Being Direct, was published by Random House in January 1997. An earlier book, Frontiers of Direct Marketing, was published in 1981, and his speeches and articles have appeared in publications worldwide.
Wunderman was visiting professor direct marketing at the school for continuing and professional studies at New York University 1998-2000, and he has lectured on direct marketing at Columbia University, Fordham University, Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was formerly a director of the Advertising Council, and he also served on the boards of directors of the Direct Marketing Association and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
Wunderman is currently senior advisor to the Young & Rubicam board of directors, chairman and director of i-behavior, and he serves as senior advisor to the board of directors of Rewards Network. He is former chairman of the executive committee of the Center for Direct Marketing of New York University.
Wunderman is a member of the visiting committee of the department for the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was also a long-time trustee of Sesameworkshop (formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop).
Wunderman is also a photographer. His photographs of the Dogon people of Mali are in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and have been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and 12 other museums.