Alvin Achenbaum spent more than 60 years as a practitioner of advertising and marketing, 20 at four different ad agencies and 40 as a marketing consultant to both agencies and companies across the globe. He wrote hundreds of research studies, presentations, articles and speeches, some of which changed the nature of best practices across many industries.

Details about all of Achenbaum’s contributions can be found at the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History at Duke University, which published the entire collection of his Professional Papers in 2013.   The Collection can be accessed at the Center’s website.

Here is an overview of Achenbaum’s client list and a preview of his many contributions to the intellectual thinking of his time.

Client List

As both an advertising executive and a consultant, Achenbaum advised more than 150 blue chip American and global companies.   His client list includes:

  • Major packaged food and beverage companies, such as Kraft FoodsNestléProcter & GambleCoca-ColaSeagram and the Miller Brewing Company
  • Major appliance and electronics companies, such as General ElectricPhillipsMinolta and RCA
  • Motor vehicle manufacturers, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler
  • Telecommunications giants, such as IBM, GTE, AT&T and Verizon
  • Fast food restaurants, including Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Leading players in other fields, including Exxon, the U.S. Army, Hallmark, Macy’s and NBC

Publications and Speeches

Achenbaum was a prolific writer and speaker, contributing regular columns to trade magazines, as well as research articles which appeared in professional journals. The ideas he presented, both in print and in speeches at professional gatherings, often challenged industry assumptions, earning him both praise as “the Einstein of Advertising” and derision as “the most hated man on Madison Avenue.” Although he first started undertaking research studies and giving speeches in the early 1960s, many of the fundamentals he spoke about through the years remain relevant today.

In the late 1980s, Achenbaum published weekly columns in two major industry publications, Advertising Age and Marketing Week.  A comprehensive list of his publications can be found on the Hartman Library website.  Here are just a few sample titles from his columns, speeches and scholarly work.


Column for Advertising Age: Achenbaum’s Analysis

The Hot Upfront: A Net TV Illusion. (September 11, 1989)

How to Breathe New Life Into Brands. (April 24, 1989)

Retailers Have Reclaimed Brand Leadership. (September 1, 1997)



Column for Marketing Week: Achenbaum at Large

Why Large Companies Embrace Small Agencies. (June 13, 1988)

What Price Cost Cutting? (August 18, 1986)

Short Term Marketing Myopia. (September 16, 1985)



The Mismanagement of Brand Equity. Presented to the Advertising Research Foundation (February 1993)

Compensation Philosophy: The Client View. Presented to the American Association of Advertisers (March 1988)

Are we Executing or Killing Our Marketing Plans? Presented to the American Marketing Association (May 1982)

Knowledge is a Thing Called Measurement. Presented to the American Marketing Association (January 1966)


Journal Articles

The Perils of Niche Marketing. Published in the Harvard Business Review (June 1987)

Effective Exposure: The Subversion of a Useful Idea. Published in the Journal of Media Planning (Fall 1986)

Advertising Doesn’t Manipulate Consumers. Published in the Journal of Advertising Research (April 1972)


For an index of these publications, please visit the Alvin A. Achenbaum Collection at the Hartman Center’s website.