Friday, November 14, 2008

Paul Newman: The head of the class...

You and I would be hard pressed to find any American man or woman over the age of 30 who doesn't have a keen appreciation for Paul Newman. The silver screen legend who rode perhaps even a little taller in the saddle than the Sundance Kid, who delightfully masterminded The Sting and did so much more to demonstrate to all of us moviegoers exactly what it meant to be a proud man of substance never ever to be trifled with or taken lightly, was recently laid to rest. In all the ways that the great movie stars live on through their captured performances, Mr. Newman will stay with us, but like Tim Manners and many other marketing professionals, as well as consumers at large throughout the world who enjoy the products of Newman's Own and the hundreds of thousands of recipients of this unique man's extraordinary philanthropy, I find that his legacy adds levels of depth and inspiration which are exceedingly rare.


Mr. Manners recently contributed a story to Advertising Age entitled "Remembering Paul Newman, Marketing and Brand Guy," which recounts his own experience peering into the inner workings of the Newman's Own operation. Today, visitors to the site for the company established by Mr. Newman 26 years ago will see a couple of remarkable claims featured in artwork at the top. "Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common good," it says as an official tagline, next to a graphic proclaiming, "Over $250 million donated by Paul Newman and the Newman's Own Foundation to thousands of charities since 1982." In our world of so many celebrity "haves," how many examples do we have of people giving back at this man's level? I would venture to say, not nearly enough. The examples from this phenomenal human being go on and on: Consider The Hole in the Wall Gang, the free camp he founded for youths aged 7 to 15 with cancer and serious blood diseases. The further you look, I assure you, the more amazing philanthropy you will see. As Mr. Manners wrote in his Ad Age article, "Mr. Newman created value by making others feel valued. That was just as true for the seriously ill kids at his Hole in the Wall camps as it was for anyone who ever bought one of his products. That is the Newman's Own 'brand.'" For those of us left to carry on, when the well of inspiration begins running low, Paul Newman will always be here to remind us of the spectacular possibilities life offers us when we are at our very best. What a guy....