Dennis Bruce was different.
While he stood shoulder to shoulder with such luminaries as Ogilvy and Bernbach, Dennis believed in balance. He was a true family man, raising his children amidst some of the greatest work advertising has ever known.
In the early 1960’s, armed with a profound creative talent and boundless curiosity, Dennis quickly rose to the top of the advertising world. He found himself in rarefied air, holding top positions at MacLaren, McCann Erickson before heading halfway around the world to Ogilvy New Zealand, where he took a relatively unknown Agency and turned it into an internationally renowned, creative powerhouse. Thereafter, he returned to Canada founding not one, but three of his own Agencies.
And, while at Miller Myers Bruce, he conceived the legendary “Freedom 55” campaign that literally revolutionized the Canadian financial industry.
While this may all sound like a story of excess and the makings of a real-life Don Draper, nothing could be further from the truth. For anyone who met or knew Dennis, he was a humble man with decency, integrity, faith and compassionate humanity. For all his accomplishments, Dennis was most proud of what he called, “the most important thing I ever did” – bringing the “Out of the Cold” program to North Toronto in 1987 to feed and shelter the homeless during winter. A program that to this day, three generations of Bruces attend to, helping those less fortunate as if they were part of the family.
Dennis instilled the principles of decency, compassion and caring for others in his children. These he would balance with a strong work ethic, in equal measure.
And today, a number of his grandchildren have become part of the newest generation in advertising. His daughter Margaret became a talented strategic planner and researcher while her brothers Duncan and Andrew are industry leaders in their own right. His son Robert took to Dennis’ father’s talent for building and became a successful contractor in the Greater Toronto Area.
But for all their success, Dennis knew that in the dead of winter, he could often find his sons, his daughter and their children gathered in a church basement in North Toronto to help those who needed their help most.
Because as much as he was one of the “Mad Men” of advertising, Dennis was certain that humility, gratitude and the love of his family would be his enduring legacy.
In honour of Dennis.
From Publicis Groupe and your many friends, colleagues and admirers.
Donations in Dennis’ name can be made to the Blythwood Out of the Cold program at Blythwood.org