Former Wilmette resident and noted advertising industry executive Chris Wall died May 9 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago after a short battle with cancer. He was 61.
A graduate of New Trier East’s class of 1974, Wall was the starting Center of the school’s famed 1972-73 basketball team. Coached by John Schneiter, it remains the most successful boy’s varsity team in the school’s 116-year history, and reached the final game of the Illinois High School Basketball Tournament.
Upon graduation, Wall’s extraordinary high school career led to a full, four year scholarship at Northwestern, where he played under coach Tex Winter. In 1980, after a move to Los Angeles, Wall entered the advertising field as a copywriter for the Broadway Department Stores.
In 1987, he was hired by BBDO Los Angeles, and helped craft award-winning advertising campaigns such as “What’s on Your Powerbook” for Apple. In the 1990s, Wall moved to Ogilvy and Mather, New York, when he served as Chief Creative Officer, leading creation of IBM’s worldwide advertising for 15 years.
Steve Hayden, retired Vice Chairman of Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide, and Wall’s long-term mentor and friend noted that, under Wall’s leadership, IBM’s brand value moved from #283 in to #3. Wall also created advertising campaigns for for UPS, Motorola, Kodak, Computer Discount Warehouse and, more recently, Cisco Systems.
Mr. Hayden recently pointed out that, at 6 feet 10 and a half inches tall, Wall was actually a giant. “That wonderful combination of high-intelligence, sound logic, a touch of human goofiness is captured best in the line Chris used to use, ironically, as always, ‘Life is short. I am not.’”
A memorial service was held for Chris Wall at Ogilvy and Mather’s Chicago office on May 19th, where a theater will be dedicated in his name.