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Christian, Richard C. (Richard Carlton), 1924-2009



  • Existence: 1924-2009


Richard Carlton Christian was born on November 29, 1924 in Dayton, Ohio. In 1942 Christian began his collegiate education at Denison University, Granville, Ohio, where he took classes in journalism in the hope of becoming a sports writer. A few months later he left for military service. For three years he served in the U.S. Army's 100th Infantry Division in the United States and Europe. From 1943 through 1944 Christian attended an engineering course at the Army Specialized Training Program at The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina. In 1945 Christian attended the Biarritz American University, which was set up by the U.S. Army in Biarritz, France. The advertising course was taught by a professor named Joe Siebert from the University of North Carolina; he was the same professor who taught marketing research and advertising courses later at Miami University in Ohio.

After Christian returned to the U.S. he entered Miami University at Oxford, Ohio. While pursuing his studies he worked part-time in a marketing research firm associated with Joe Siebert, a Miami professor of marketing. Christian's main task was performing research studies for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Procter & Gamble, and the Weidemann Brewing Company in Cincinnati. He was elected to the honorary business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, and became associate member of Cincinnati chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA). After graduating in 1948 with a degree in business administration, Christian took his M.B.A. in business administration in 1949 from Northwestern University's School of Commerce. In the same year Christian married Audrey Bongartz.

Also in 1949 Christian was hired to help Bill Marsteller to establish a marketing research department at Rockwell Manufacturing in Pittsburgh. After two years Bill (William) Marsteller and Christian set up a small marketing consulting firm in Chicago, which focused on sales promotion, organizing sales meetings, and conducting research studies. Their first two clients were Rockwell Manufacturing and G.D. Crain, Jr., the founder and owner of the magazine Advertising Age (later Business Marketing). In 1953 Bill Marsteller, Harold Burson and Christian founded Burson-Marsteller, which became one of the largest public relations firms in the world. Christian acted as account executive and director of media and research.

To meet the needs of their clients, Marsteller began to expand internationally. From a one-person base in Geneva in 1959 it soon grew to over 30 advertising and public relations offices around the world. By 1960, the company was one of the most successful and largest industrial oriented agencies. At the same time Marsteller began moving its interest towards consumer advertising, and developed a so-called "business of thirds": A third of the company's business was media advertising, a third of it was public relations, and a third sales promotion.

In the need of well educated employees Marsteller began recruiting students at journalism schools, preferably schools with excellent advertising departments. In the late 1950s those were provided often by the University of Illinois, Michigan State University and Northwestern University.

From 1956 until 1960 Christian acted as executive vice president and general manager of Marsteller's Chicago office, and was elected president of the Marsteller, Rickard, Gebhardt and Reed, Inc. advertising agency. In 1970 Christian accepted appointment to the Northwestern University Board of Trustees, taking special responsibility for budget and pensions, insurance and retirement issues. In 1983 he joined with his son and son-in-law to establish the media productions company Sedgwick Productions.

In 1979 Marsteller, Inc. merged with Young & Rubicam, and Christian became a member of the Young & Rubicam executive committee and board. In September 1984, he left Marsteller for Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism to serve as associate dean and professor of advertising. Two years later he shifted to Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where he was appointed associate dean of administration and external relations. He stayed at Kellogg until 1991, and later returned to Medill, where he chaired its Strategic Planning Committee. He was president of the Northwestern Alumni Association as well as a founder of the Kellogg School's alumni association. Christian received all of the three Northwestern Alumni Association awards, the Alumni Medal, Merit Award and Service Award.

In 1991 the American Advertising Federation elected Christian to its Advertising Hall of Fame. During his career he served as chairman and director of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA); president and director of the National Advertising Review Council; chairman and director of the Business/Professional Advertising Association (B/PAA), Chicago; director of the James Webb Young Advertising Fund at the University of Illinois, and founding Director of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. He also served as a director of the Economic Club of Chicago, director of the Chicago Council of the Better Business Bureau and board chair of the Lake Street Church of Evanston.

He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from National-Louis University, where he served as a long-time trustee, the Ohio Governor's Award, and the first Distinguished Service Award of the American Academy of Advertising.

Under Christian's guidance, Marsteller, Inc. created two of most memorable campaigns in advertising history: the Dannon yogurt spot was the first American commercial filmed and produced in the Soviet Union (Georgia) in the 1970s, and the "Keep America Beautiful" campaign, which became the longest continuously running television spot ever.

Christian, 84, died of congestive heart failure at his home in Evanston on October 3, 2009.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Richard C. Christian Papers

Identifier: 31/6/103
Abstract Richard Christian was co-founder of Burson-Marsteller, one of the most successful public relations companies in the world. He served as associate dean and professor of advertising at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and as associate dean of administration and external relations at Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management. This collection fills 28 boxes and spans the years from 1951 through 1999. It contains biographical materials, professional files relating to...
Dates: 1951-1999; Other: Date acquired: 02/09/2010