The “father of modern advertising” was born today in 1903. Now WE know em


Fairfax Mastick Cone was born February 21, 1903 in San Francisco.

Cone’s father was a prospector and mining engineer, and his mother was a schoolteacher.

His interests in high school were in art. In 1921, Cone enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, originally intending to be an illustrator.

Cone’s love for drawing, caused him to not spend enough time focused on his studies. He failed to pass the required courses and was sent home. When he returned, Fairfax Cone discovered literature. He concentrated on his studies and decided to become an English professor. Eventually he graduated with a degree in English.

Upon graduation, Cone was invited to become a teaching fellow in the English department, only to discover he had not completed a required physical education course.

As fate would have it, due to that problem with his credentials, Cone got a job as an advertising clerk with the San Francisco Examiner rather than a teaching fellowship.

After eight months his supervisor suggested that Cone apply for a position in the Promotions Department where he could use his artistic talent. Fairfax Cone got the job and under the direction of Truman Bailey, he began to learn same basic principles.

In 1928, Cone left the San Francisco Examiner for an advertising agency, thus embarking on a career that would leave an indelible mark on his life.

It was Cone who said,

“There is no such thing as a Mass Mind. The Mass Audience is made up of individuals, and good advertising is written always from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions it rarely moves anyone.”

Advertising career

After a year with the L.H. Waldron advertising agency, Cone joined Lord and Thomas as a copy-writer.

Cone steadily rose up the corporate ladder, eventually impressing the head of the firm, Albert Lasker.

In 1941, Lasker wished to retire and liquidate Lord and Thomas, but instead he passed off the bulk of the agency’s clients to three of his rising stars; Emerson Foote, Don Belding, and Cone.

On December 29, 1942, the three opened a new agency, Foote, Cone and Belding.

Following the retirements of Foote and Belding, Cone became the last of the three founders on the Board of Directors.

In 1946, Cone became the director of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.




Cone was the author of With All Its Faults, a candid account of his 40 years in advertising,

and The Blue Streak, a collection of memos to the FCB staff,

Cone challenged the advertising world to fight for honest and ethical advertising.



“Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is”



Cone retired in 1970.

Sometimes called the “father of modern advertising,” Cone was later inducted into the American National Business Hall of Fame.

Fairfax Cone died June 20, 1977 in Monterey, California.

 Now WE know em


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