Monday, October 24, 2011

I Heard the News Today Oh Boy: Graham Rust Died in Prague; World a Sadder Place.

Graham Rust, founder of the Czech advertising agency Rust, was a great teacher. I discovered this the first time we met. Lesson Number 1 was: Beer in Czech is pivo. Lesson Number 2: Dark in Czech is cerny. Then we just put ‘em together and we were all set to conquer Prague: Cerny pivo.

Sometime just after the fall of the Soviet Union (remember the Soviet Union?), Graham made his agency a member of Dialogue International. So in September of 1994, Barbara and I traveled to Prague for the first-ever Dialogue International managers’ meeting in a former Iron Curtain country. Graham and Jo Rust were our hosts then and on the visits that followed.

We ate a lot, learned how to say three more words in Czech and met wonderfully talented people. The best part of the trip was spending time with Graham and Jo; and staying friends with them for almost 20 years. Buried in a closet somewhere there are photographs of those early meetings. Not digitized. Trust me, though, Graham and I looked younger then. One of us had more hair.

My notes indicate that most of the old Dialogue gang came to Prague that year: Frits Slootweg and Charles de la Rochefoucauld, Jaakko Alanko, Timo Kivi, Gianfranco Vallana (yes, even then). It now seems amazing just how many have maintained their involvement with Dialogue. The managers tabled a next meeting scheduled for Marrakesh in favor of Paris for political reasons that sounds disturbingly contemporary.

Although a Short British Person, he had the heart of an NBA center and the smart of an ad giant. Graham’s death is sad. His life is way more fun. We had a lot of laughs and many great professional moments. Today, my sympathies and those of Barbara and Rachel go out to all the Rusts.

Graham once referred to me as a “Distinguished Friend” of Dialogue International. More important, I am thankful that Graham was a distinguished friend of mine.

1 comment:

Sardar said...

This is indeed very sad news. I met Graham about 15 years ago in Prague when Emirates were looking for agency for Czech- which at the time was a small offline station for us. He quickly won us over with his professionalism, personal warmth and creative brilliance and he contributed to much of the early TV work that ran internationally until 2006. That included creating and producing TV commercials of world class quality. (He promised he could deliver for a bargain and he did). The cast included a young Czech model who played an Indian! Since then we maintained contact through email and phone. I finally visited Prague for pleasure and met Graham and Ales in Sept 2010 with my family.I had not communicated with him since our return but am lucky enough to have a picture of him with my family and I. His passing away has come as a shock. He was one of those people who had an innate ability to make each and every person he met feel special- more than respected but loved. I will miss him. My heartfelt condolences to go his loving family.
Sardar Khan