Mike Tesch: 1938-2020
Posted on Nov 17, 2020
Remembering an ad icon and Hall of Fame laureate
The One Club for Creativity is saddened to learn of the passing of advertising legend Mike Tesch, who died last week at the age of 82 after complications related to COVID-19.
Mike is one of a very small group of creatives who have been inducted into both of our Halls of Fame; he joined the ADC Hall of Fame in 1988, followed by The One Club's Creative Hall of Fame in 2004. He was extremely proud of both accomplishments and continued to be involved in the Halls of Fame for many years afterward.
Born in Brooklyn, NY on October 7, 1938, and raised in Queens, Mike's early creative years found him in the orbit of many other legends; he was taught by fellow future Hall of Fame laureate Bob Gill at the School of Visual Arts, and eventually went to work iconic design duo (and Hall of Famers) Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar. But it was not long afterward that Mike truly hit his creative stride when he left the design world in favor of advertising.
In 1966, the planets aligned just right, and Mike found himself in a constellation of eventual Hall of Famers: Carl Ally, Amil Gargano, Ed McCabe, and Ralph Ammirati. The agency, which soon became known as the 1970s and 80s powerhouse Ally & Gargano, also paired Mike up with Kansas-born copywriter (and yet another One Club Hall of Famer) Patrick Kelly. Together, Mike and Patrick set the industry on fire, from boosting the fortunes of Pan-Am to launching some of the heaviest salvos in the advertising battle between Hertz rental cars and their scrappy competitor Avis — including what could arguably be called the first Super Bowl ad, a not-so-subtle jab printed in the beginning pages of the program for the 1967 Chiefs-Packers championship game.
Mike and Patrick continued to produce publicly admired and industry lauded work for many years, for brands like Tonka and Dunkin' Donuts. But if one campaign had to stand above all of the others in terms of recognition, it would be the legendary "Fast-Paced World", a rapid-fire romp for FedEx demonstrating just why things had to absolutely, positively be there overnight. This spot, directed by another future Hall of Fame laureate Joe Sedelmaier, dominated at the industry award shows, including our own.
Mike remained with Ally & Gargano until 1991, eventually settling in the Miami area, where he continued to work his advertising magic while also pursuing an interest in painting and animal care.