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Saying goodbye to Per Pedersen, a creative icon that embodied a love for advertising

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Last Friday, news broke of Per Pedersen’s passing last January 04, 2023 in Copenhagen, surrounded by his loved ones. The ad world grieves as it says goodbye to a wonderful creative mind that has left the industry better than he found it.

Much of Per’s illustrious career full of innovative ideas was spent at Grey, including 18 years at Uncle Grey, a Grey Group ad agency based in his homeland Denmark, and a decade at Grey Group. During his tenure, Uncle Grey became the country’s highest-ranked creative agency. So, it was no surprise when he steadily rose the ranks once he transferred to Grey Group, eventually becoming the Global Creative Chairman, a role in which he transformed Grey into one of the world’s most creative organizations, in 2017.

However, despite his immense success in building Grey into the powerhouse it is, he took another brave step in the name of creating a new global network of the world’s most creative independent agencies in 2017 by founding By The Network.

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“We were still building the network at the time when we had to run a global client, and it worked really well. Even the doubters among us realized we can do this,” he once told adobo Magazine during a quick chat during the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. “We know exactly what to do. It was such a proof of concept.”

It was also during the 2022 Cannes Lions that Per Pedersen launched Kill Your Darlings, a film that explored the brutal truths that came with working in the ad industry. Echoing advertising’s hopes and fears, along with its triumphs and faults, his documentary was a testament to how much Per cared about authenticity and holding organizations accountable, even if the system he was critiquing was one he was a part of.

Per Pedersen’s love of advertising birthed Kill Your Darlings, a documentary garnering strong reactions from the industry

According to Per, though, it’s exactly his being a part of this industry and loving creativity that drove him to make the film. He said the reason that he was so proud of this feature was that “I love advertising and will never fall out of love with creativity.”

And this love for creativity and advertising not only showed in his work but also in the relationships in the industry he formed and the creative ventures he helped launch. So, it’s not a wonder why his passing is felt so strongly throughout the industry.

As creatives around the world are heartbroken to start the new year with this farewell, many expressed their grief over the loss of Per, recounting the many ways he has not only made the world of advertising a better place but made them better creatives and people too along the way.

“My dearest friend Per Pedersen left this world. A man with an overwhelming talent, a contagious passion and a unique heart. He leaves such an immense emptiness in our industry. I will never forget the moments we spent together at Grey, the campaigns we wrote on the beach of Miami and the extremely spicy Asian dinner we had in Vegas when we decided to create by The Network,” Andrea Stillacci, the co-founder and chairman of By the Network, wrote. “I will miss you so much, Per.”

Amir Guy, togetherr Founder, also wrote a tribute to Per, recounting the late ad man’s principle’s vision. “I have known and worked with Per Pedersen for over 10 years. But, since 2019, Per had a giant impact on my life. We joined hands and vow to do everything we can to change what we didn’t like about our industry,” he said. “Per went to build ByTheNetwork, and at the same time helped me bring my vision of togetherr to life. Per changed my life. I owe him so much for his support, his partnership in my vision, his advice. Per brought all of himself and everything he believed in to support my venture, because he loved creative and advertising.”

The Creative Ladder Co-Founder David Griner even shared an unpublished interview with Per, saying, “It captures his passion for responsibility and advocacy.”

“Truly devastated to hear about the death of Per Pedersen, whose heart, brain and personality were bigger than almost any others in advertising,” he expressed.

It was Per’s wish that all who’d like to attend his funeral are more than welcome.

  • Date & Time: January 14, 2023, 13:00
  • Location: Copenhagen Cathedral (Vor Frue Kirke), Nørregade 8, 1165 København, followed by a reception. Please contact jack.smail@bythenetwork.com for further details.

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