Art & Commerce: Remembering Tim Elliott

My friend Tim Elliott died on Dec. 30, the day before the new millennium arrived and a weekend before the world decided that Y2K hadn’t happened and was unlikely to anytime soon.
It was appropriate in some ways that Tim kept his affairs within the 20th century. He was a man of absolutes and principles in a world that is running headlong to politics by research and materialism as credos. Besides, he was not one for technology. The most complicated electronic device he ever mastered was the telephone. He was not one for computers. The Internet was as foreign and loathsome to him as the French.
If you ever met Elliott, you’ll know what I mean. If you knew him even slightly, chances are he pinched your arse at some point, whether yours was a business or pleasurable relationship, whether you were male or female. His wicked grin and childlike exclamation of “buttocks” would then disarm you of any indignant response. And you’d become charmed by this wonderfully warm, funny and sympathetic character.
Elliott was a rare bird in this business of ours. He was a suit and proud of it. At Ogilvy & Mather, where I first worked with him, every creative person in the agency wanted to work with him. Elliott could sell anything, they said. Elliott was “wacko,” but his clients loved him, as did all the people who worked for and around him. He loved great advertising, more than anyone I think I’ve ever worked with. More importantly, he knew it when he saw it.
He charmed me into moving to Washington, D.C., and a hellish year of ugly people and federal-
level high jinks at a regional agency he ran down there for a brief period. There was only one way out, so we returned to New York and started an agency together way back in the early ’90s. We survived longer than 90 percent of start-ups, even thrived for the first few years. They were among the happiest years I’ve had. Then Elliott left to “see the world from the sharp end and to stop farting around with changing light bulbs and ordering coffee.” The fun went out of advertising about a week later.
Elliott was the first real planner
I ever worked with. He wrote briefs that never occupied more space than seemed absolutely essential. He was economical with the written word. But when it came to selling good work, Elliott was a master of persuasion and economy was seldom a tool he employed. Often his sales would last into the small hours and involve copious quantities of the essential vitamins and minerals found in old, and not-so-old, claret.
Elliott was a hell of a husband. Even when they lived on either side of a continent. With a woman like Darryl, it’s little wonder he valued his marriage above everything else in his life.
Tim died way, way too young. From pancreatic cancer. This horrible disease stole one of the funniest, most intellectually rigorous and honest, and yes, eccentric people our industry has ever boasted. There’s no one I’ve met that could ever come close to filling his shoes. His glass, perhaps, but never his shoes.
Bye bye, Tim. You’ve left a hole that will take a century of vintages of the world’s great red wines to fill.
John Doig
Creative director
Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos

Tim Elliott died on Dec. 30. He wasn’t one of the industry’s well-known brand names. But he was still a superstar. The business has lost one of the best ever.
I worked for Tim for five years at Ogilvy & Mather in New York. He was my first business mentor (as he was to many of those who worked for him). He had worked for Ogilvy in Johannesburg, Los Angeles and Toronto, before coming to New York. He was brilliant and had clarity of vision. He played comfortably on the lunatic fringe. He was a superb leader and he wrote magnificently. His management style was strange, manic but, most of all, caring. And he did all of this while inspiring everyone around him to deliver brilliant work and think great thoughts.
Importantly, he always did what he said would do–and he never missed a deadline or failed to return a phone call. He was an industry gold standard, although he never played by the same rules as everyone else. I used to say that his lifelong mission was to create chaos in all things bureaucratic.
I loved that about him.
He drove everyone who worked for him crazy and hard–but no one more so than himself. He loved to entertain, be entertained (our trips to the “ballet” were truly a lifetime experience) and he made sure that we all never took ourselves too seriously–just the work. Tim had very little ego–and he always made you feel more important.
I owe a lot to Tim Elliott–a rejuvenated career at Ogilvy, the ability to accomplish much in a short period of time (Tim knew more about multitasking before it became trendy among the Internet digerati), good writing skills and an appreciation for single-malt whiskey. There are many of us, all over the world, who owe so much to this tremendous human being and all of his “tiddles,” “festering piles” and other associated eccentricities–which made him quite endearing.
We will miss him immeasurably.
I will miss his phone calls from all over the place, his wisdom and counsel and, most of all, his wicked sense of humor. He was a very special person–loved and respected by all.
Tim was clearly robbed of his life. But so were his wonderful wife and cohorts, friends and clients, all of whom he touched with his decency, intelligence and craziness. And I know what he would say about all this fuss: “Stop the rubbish and get on with it.” So I will. It’ll just be a lot harder without him.
Mark Goldman
360, Atlanta

Remembering Jim Michelson
Iread with great sadness of the passing of Jim Michelson, a quintessential “New-Business Man” [Adweek, Jan. 3]. Jim’s approach was disciplined, persistent and deeply researched, yet always
laced with his own distinctive wit, style and charm. He was a true professional who never tired of tracking down leads, using his prodigious memory to catalogue and organize names, dates and facts across the years of an incredibly long and productive career.
Jim would often make just the right links, or bring just the right insight to mind, to provide the key to make any search more successful. He was quick to share his knowledge and he was ever kind to friends and colleagues who turned to him for advice and information.
Our business has lost a great and good person. Jim and his gravel-voiced phone calls, barking out the latest scoop or question, closing with kind words and encouragement, will be missed.
Victoria Amon
Director of career development
DDB, New York

Nike and Goodby, Silverstein: A Mutual Admiration Society
Ijust read the letter from Jeff, Rich and the gang [Letters, Dec. 13]. It bugs me that they felt the need to write it. Are these guys incredibly classy or is most of this business just incredibly petty? I can vouch for the former. Fortunately, we have no experience with the latter. It’s just my personal observation.
Well, everything they said is true, if not understated. Typically, they said it better than we could have. Which is why we hired them in the first place. We would again.
Rob DeFlorio
Director of advertising
Nike, Portland, Ore.

For the Record: The name of Bob Schultz, partner at The PlowShare Group, Stamford, Conn., was spelled incorrectly in a news story [Adweek, Jan. 10] Zenith Media Services, New York, was not an incumbent in Royal Caribbean’s $50 million media buying review [AIR, Jan 10]. The Media Edge in New York was the sole incumbent The credits provided for Lowe Lintas & Partners in a New Campaigns story about recent RCA advertising [Creative, Jan. 3] should have included art director Michele Raso and copywriter Tom Kraemer. Also, Doug James served as copywriter, and Rob Feakins and Roger Bentley were co-creative directors.

Publish date: January 17, 2000 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT