Out of Home Pioneer Dennis Sullivan Dies at 70

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Dennis spent four decades in the out of home industry, beginning his career in sales at the UK’s Mills & Allen (now JC Decaux) before becoming sales director at British Posters in 1974. In 1977 he joined the UK’s first specialist outdoor planning and buying agency Portland Outdoor, a joint venture between full service ad agencies CDP and JWT, becoming managing director in 1978.

Portland was eventually majority owned by WPP with Sullivan’s POA Holdings a substantial minority shareholder. Portland then merged with Poster Publicity to become the world’s first international outdoor specialist with offices across the world and $250m in billings. The merged company is now WPP’s Kinetic, the world’s biggest out of home specialist agency.

In recent years Dennis continued in the industry working as an international OOH consultant as well as running his villa rental business from his home in Italy.

Dennis was a big personality in an era of many big personalities, determined to do things his own way and impatient of the compromises that came with ownership by a big holding company. He saw the potential for out of home to become a major medium long before most people and steered his companies deftly through a rapidly changing media landscape.

He was a regular fixture at FEPE Congresses, always popular, entertaining and thought provoking. He will be much missed by his many friends.

FEPE Ambassador John Ellery, who worked with Dennis for many years, says: “It’s hard to imagine an out of home industry and FEPE Congresses without Dennis. He was a visionary, a real maverick and a dear friend.”

Everyone at FEPE and in the out of home industry as a whole sends their condolences to his partner Gilly Love and family.

There will be a thanksgiving memorial service in the UK in due course, details will follow when confirmed.

 

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