Keith Cousins

27 November 2012

When Keith Cousins joined George Patterson the agency was billing $7 million; in the year he retired it billed $200 million.

Throughout this time it remained Australia's largest and most dominant agency. Cousins first worked in the advertising department of the retailer Farmer & Co before joining the agency WB Lawrence & Partners. He later became an account manager at Jackson Wain on the Rothmans and Akubra accounts. While there he wrote a cinema commercial for Rothmans which became the first commercial to be screened on Australian television.

Joining Pattersons Sydney as general manager in 1958, Cousins was appointed managing director in 1967 and chairman in 1971. Like his predecessor Bill Farnsworth he used his position as market leader to the benefit of the industry.

He was president of the AFA from 1980 to 1982, and fought as hard as anyone to defend advertising's cause. He played a major role in the industry's defence of the media accreditation system, which was challenged by the Trade Practices Commission in 1975.

This action was staved off after three years of backroom work by the AFA and the Media Council. Cousins had brilliant connections. “He was friend, counsellor and powerbroker to leading politicians of all persuasions, to the leading companies, and a very long list of businessmen,” said his successor at the AFA, Terry Connaghan. “He used his position at George Patterson to further the cause of the advertising industry, and was unselfish in the amount of time he gave to that cause.”

Peter Clemenger described him as a truly great leader. “Keith Cousins was 'the leader' in the advertising industry in the late '70s and early '80s. He was a man of great stature, admired by his staff and competitors, always happy to give advice and help others. He always wanted to win but not at any cost.”