Award-winning ad director Graham Rose dies

Graham Rose, multi-award-winning commercials director whose "Photo Booth" spot for Hamlet cigars has been lauded as one of the best British ads of the 20th century, has died aged 68.

The co-founder of Rose Hackney Productions had been diagnosed with cancer six months ago and a series of infections rendered his condition inoperable.

During a career spanning more than 40 years, Rose’s directing talents brought dozens of famous campaigns to life—from Allied Dunbar’s "There may be trouble ahead" series of films in the mid-90s to Heineken’s "Pride & Prejudice" spoof of 2011.

But it was "Photo Booth," the 1987 Collett Dickenson Pearce spot featuring Gregor Fisher making a hash of trying to get a perfect picture of himself, that will always be synonymous with him.

Described as "a masterclass in studied anticipation," the commercial won top awards at Cannes and D&AD. In 1997 a special jury at Cannes voted it Ad of the Century.

It was an outstanding example of the humor that always flowed through Rose’s work.

Dave Trott, who joined the then Boase Massimi Pollitt at the same time as Rose in 1970, said: "Graham was one of the funniest guys in London—witty, sharp and fast. In fact, I think his autobiography should have been called 'Nobody Doesn’t Like A Laugh.' But he didn’t just do funny. His work was always beautifully shot."

Rose was a true all-rounder, having won awards as a copywriter and art director as well as for his commercials.

Having studied graphic design and advertising at Ealing College of Art, Rose’s worked at Wasey Pritchard Wood and Dorlands before spending most of the next decade at BMP.

In September 1981 he went into partnership with John Hackney, a one-time producer at BMP, to form Rose Hackney, later rechristened Rose Hackney Barber when director Daniel Barber became a partner.

"The beginning was the scariest time for us but I never doubted we’d be a success," Hackney later recalled. "It was Graham’s immense talent. People would see us and employ us straight away. We set up and never looked over our shoulders."

Although Rose’s reputation was forged during advertising’s so-called golden era, he continued to be active well beyond it. Even in the weeks before his death he got himself released from hospital to shoot commercials for in Prague and London in collaboration with Chris Wilkens, his one-time creative partner at BMP.

"Graham was a force of nature who lived for his work," Hackney said. "He had only forward gears. There was no neutral or reverse.

Rose is survived by his wife, Pauline, and his daughter, Katz, a teacher.

A private family funeral will take place on Wednesday, June 7 to be followed by a memorial evening in Soho during the next few weeks.

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