DDB pays tribute to Maxwell Dane

Maxwell Dane, the last surviving founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach, has died at his home in New York, aged 98, after a brief illness.

Dane, DDB's secretary and treasurer until his retirement in 1971, set up the agency with Ned Doyle and the legendary creative Bill Bernbach in June 1949.

While it was Bernbach who established the wry and witty style that was to become DDB's creative trademark and revolutionise world advertising, Dane was in control of the purse strings.

Nevertheless, some commentators believed that they detected the humour of Dane, a one-time copywriter, in DDB's output and slogans such as "Think small" for Volkswagen and "We try harder" for Avis.

One wrote: "The self-deprecating quality of the Doyle Dane ads, often presenting the product as scrappy underdog, reflected Dane's own brand of unassuming forcefulness through humour." Dane himself once described humour as "a great weapon, in advertising and in life".

Born to Russian immigrants in Cincinnati, Dane began work as the secretary to the ad manager of a New York retailer. He later worked as a retail promotion manager for the New York Evening Post before joining Look magazine, where he met Doyle.

After a spell with the radio station WMCA during the Second World War, he opened his own agency in 1944 before joining his partners in the launch of DDB.

Dane was equally well known for his humanitarian interests. He established DDB's non-discrimination policy, was a key figure in the New York Civil Liberties Union and the treasurer of the International League for Human Rights. His radicalism won him the dubious distinction of being included on Richard Nixon's "enemies" list.

"Mac truly cared about people, our people at the agency and in the world outside of DDB," Keith Reinhard, the chairman of DDB Worldwide, said.

Dane, who attended a 98th birthday party at DDB's headquarters in June, is survived by his second wife, Esther, a son, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.