Rialto Advertising Reunion

I once worked for an advertising agency called Rialto - between 1986 and 1989. My friend Brian Harrison hired me as a copywriter. With him as creative director the agency had a terrific run of winning awards and accounts. It was an interesting time. I learned a great deal both good and bad.

The stock market crashed in October 1987 (or, euphemistically, 'corrected'). I was in New York on holiday when it happened, or rather leaving on a flight for London. When I opened the NY Times to the headline screamed the news. When I arrived London there was hurricane that tore trees out of the ground in Kew Gardens. Omens, perhaps? When I arrived home from the trip I sensed that nothing in advertising would ever be the same again. It wasn't.

Much of the life was leeched out of it by the extraordinary correction of clients. As the paper tigers of the boom years went up in flames the prudent survived and the clung to their budgets in a combination of canniness and desperation the residue of which remains dusted over the best and the worst.

I met my first wife, Megan when I worked at Rialto. In hindsight the excesses of the 80s had to go and, maybe, Rialto was a manifestation of them. Before it metastasised into HKM Rialto spent a small fortune refitting the offices - which became the signature of John Roberts - the managing director who was playing the fiddle as the agency burned. His legacy to the advertising industry was nice furniture - and the award for services to interior decoration (commercial) goes to...

Last night I received a message from that distant past. Elliot Smith had been the runner at Rialto. He's an airline pilot now. I only vaguely remember him. But he is trying to organise a reunion of people who worked at the agency.

If you did work there or know of someone who did then contact Elliot at: ebsmith@wave.co.nz

It could be fun.


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