It has been over a month since the Bay Area advertising world lost one of its most beloved figures: John Durham. For many (including me), the loss is still hard to process.
For those who knew John personally, worked with him, or simply heard stories circling the advertising world, “The Durham” was a fixture of the advertising community. His career spanned decades building agencies and brands as well as developing successful strategies for multiple Fortune 500 companies. Locally, he started several advertising and strategy companies along with San Francisco Bay Area Innovation Group (SFBIG), formerly known as San Francisco Bay Interactive Group and one of the largest associations representing digital media agencies, publishers, and ad tech in the Bay Area. John sought out and collaborated with all the Bay Area’s marketing clubs and organizations including AMA, and he was always on the lookout for opportunities for organizations to work together.
I first met John as a graduate student at the University of San Francisco where, in addition to his busy day job, he taught advertising courses at night. John was a household name, even for those not in the business school. He was famous for his “legendary class trips” that included Pebble Beach and Napa, and even Las Vegas to go behind the scenes of casino marketing and operations. After one of those classes, he ended up taking me under his wing as an intern at Carat Interactive and launching my career in digital advertising.
John made it a point to support education. In addition to his part-time job teaching at USF, his organizations supported local schools in many ways including donating computers and raising funds for local sports programs including USF Soccer.
As a friend, mentor, leader, benefactor, and more, John touched so many lives along the way. In his memory, let’s raise a glass of red wine (as I know that’s how he would have wanted it) to celebrate all that was John as well as the legacy and fond memories that live on.