Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jan Cederquist, we miss you.

In Memory of Jan Cederquist who passed away July 7.

I'm really sorry I post this so late,
but I simply didn't know how to express myself.

Jan was one of the foremost copywriters in Sweden.
Perhaps the best copywriter who's ever worked in the industry.
He didn't so much sell as he made people want to buy.
(I stole that line from an insert in Campaign.)

I've had the pleasure to work with him.
As an art director.

First he agreed to write an add in a series for Linotype typography I devised.
(Other writers of the campaign included giants such David Abbott, David Metcalf, Lasse Collin...)
Eventually I got to work with him at Hall & Cederquist.
Which was arguably the best agency in Sweden.

Hall, Stjernholm and Skogh were the other three oringal members of the agency.
Aside from that it was populated by many other stars.
Jan attracted giants. He made them grow even higher.
How the heck I qualified still puzzles me.

I will for ever be grateful for the moments
I worked with Jan,
and for all the time I stole from him just hear him talk.

I probably talked too much myself.
Just to see what the response would be.
He was truly generous with everything.

He's also partly responsible for my interest in photography.
He sponsored the first Hasselblad camera
I ever had the opportunity to use.

Now, Jan was not just a copywriter.
He was way more. He was a philosopher.
And he wrote real books.
A fervent enemy of ridiculous bureaucracy.

I totally symphatized with everything he stood for.
I also discovered that advertising could be so much more than hard sell
when reading the book "Ord till Salu" (Words for Sale"),
in which he had written a very important chapter.

I remember the firs time I met him.
I went to his agench to apply for a job I think.
Or maybe just to try to talk myself into one.

I was shown into his office.
He was on the phone but gestured me
to sit down nevertheless.

It was apparently from a potential client,
or maybe even an existing client wanting to change some ad?
In his warm, calm voice,
he simply declared that the agency didn't do "that sort of advertising",
but there would certainly be many others out there who would gladly do it.
I knew then that I absolutely had to work there.

He didn't want to see my work.
He referred it to Lars Hall, his art director partner.

That was Jan. He left air to breath for everyone.
Actually, I think he created oxygen for all of us.
These flowers are for you.
Photographed outside
an advertising agency
in New York City.


Siglia said...

Last month I read Jan's book 'Meaningful coincidences' while in a trip to Europe, and as I'm interested in this topic I searched for other books that he may have written in the field, that's when I saw a note that he had passed away last year.

Anyway, I googled his name, and your blog came up, so I'd like to say that I enjoyed reading your poem to a decent man that seems that lived his life fully touching deeply the lives of those who met him.
Very nice!

Tore Claesson said...

@ Siglia, Jan was my mentor for a short periods of my life, as you already must have understood. He was indeed a rare man. A guy who bled for justice. What's amazing about him was that he never, ever tried to force his own opinion on you. He was an amazingly tolerant person when it came to listening to little naive kids like myself. But he was stern when it came to the corruption of power and anything that would hint at the tiniest symptom big brother behaviour. Many men and women don't live like they preach. He did.

Daniela said...


I am Italian and I am reading Meaningful Coincidence by Jan Cederquist. I am living an exciting experience because I am finding in his pages what I have not been able to explain during many years. At the same time I thought I had to know more about him. I have done a short research on Internet and I have found out he is passed in 2009...
I don't know English so well for expressing the emotions I have. When I read the new, I had a strong emotion of pain - considering I have just met his pages two days ago. It has been as I had lost an important person.
I would have been happy to meet and talk with him.
Thank Jan for your book.