Olly Chapman, UK managing director of production company Furlined, died suddenly on 6 January. The esteemed producer worked in advertising for more than two decades in roles at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, BETC and more. Diane McArter and Ben Davies, president and vice-president of Furlined, share their tribute to Chapman.
Olly Chapman passed away shockingly and suddenly of natural causes at his home on 6 January. It seems unconscionable that such a beautiful light should be so brutally extinguished. To reflect now that it is only 18 months since Olly came to be a part of Furlined is astonishing to us. Looking back, Olly joining the company seemed like a homecoming – not of him to us, but of us to him.
We had known him for years before the planets aligned to bring us together. It was tough to be in our business and not have been exposed to his energy: the legendary long steak lunches in his BBH days; his optimism, humour and extraordinary charm; his truly superhuman capacity for physical feats, whether on the rugby pitch or the Marathon de Sables; his time in the military, of which he seldom spoke but which all who knew him understood to be a part of the foundation of his character.
Over the past two decades, Olly has made an extraordinary impact on the industry and on all those who worked with him. From BBH in the 2000s to board member and then head of TV at AMV, and as head of broadcast at BETC, Olly’s reputation as a brilliant professional and one of life’s few true gentlemen only grew in strength and stature. What Olly accomplished in these past 18 months at Furlined is truly astonishing and impactful to the company, our talent and the industry.
Olly’s three sons, Ned (15), Milo (11) and Luke (9), were the light and focus of his life. It is incumbent on all of us now to do everything we can to support them and Olly’s wife Jo as they try to make a new world from the broken pieces of the old.
Olly loved our industry. He never forgot what a privilege it is to spend your day in the pursuit of creating beautiful work. But we suspect that, to him, the work itself was just a welcome by-product of something more important: the process of working with people that he loved.
There are many reading this now who fall into that fortunate category. If there’s anything positive to emerge from the awful injustice of Olly’s death, let it be this: that in these days of growing challenge and uncertainty we remember to love not just the business we’re in but each other, too, as Olly taught us.