Keith Wride, one of the most influential figures in the regional advertising world, has died aged 89.
He began life as a junior creative in post war Manchester and rose to become the creative director of Osborne Peacock, then based in Tib St in central Manchester. With clients including British Gas, Crown Paints and Cussons, Osborne Peacock was by the mid-60s the largest advertising agency headquartered outside London.
Tom Reddy, who later went on to establish his own agency, was at the time number two to Keith in the creative department and he recalls the agency’s star partnership of copywriter Wendy Smith and creative Keith producing what was believed at the time to be the first ever TV commercial for a UK product, Cussons. All previous TV commercials having been aired by the more experienced global US FMCG brands.
In 1968, Osborne Peacock was acquired by Royds in London and in 1970 Keith was promoted to managing director.
Having taken over the management of the agency, Keith reviewed his domain and decided that the polluted declining city of Manchester at that time was not fit for the purpose of an agency which positioned itself as the leading player in a ‘glamorous’ industry.
So he took the extremely bold decision to relocate the agency to a former country house which had become a run-down nightclub, Bonis Hall, just outside Prestbury in Cheshire, where many of his well—heeled clients lived.
Sixteen years later Keith stepped down as MD following the merger of Royds with McCanns.
However, his influence has lasted to this day as his two successors, Brian Child and Sue Little were both Wride hires.
Little acknowledged her debt to Wride as: “an amazing man with a vision and a determination that in many instances has shaped the Manchester advertising scene. Without him we wouldn’t have Bonis Hall and the incredible agency that he laid the foundations for”.
Bonis Hall, complete with swimming pool, remains to this day the location for the largest single agency operation based outside London with almost 400 staff employed across its sprawling complex of new and old buildings and enjoying sales of £100m plus. Clients of the agency include Aldi, Harveys, Npower and Travel Republic.
Wride leaves an extraordinary legacy of creativity and vision to advertising in general and the North in particular.