Harry Henry, Market Research Giant, Dies Aged 92

26 November 2008

Leading exponent of market research who pioneered its application to many aspects of advertising and media management. 
LONDON: Harry Henry is best known for his pioneering work in market research, initially within advertising agencies and later as applied to the management of major media organisations. His career spanned the war and reached a zenith as the right hand of Roy Thomson, at the time the major innovator in the British press. There are few if any main industry research bodies on which he has not served in a distinguished capacity.

Harry joined the board of the Thomson Organisation in 1961 as Director of Marketing, later Deputy Managing Director. He was closely involved in the launch of the Sunday Times Colour Magazine (the first of its kind), the development of a number of magazines and evening newspapers, the acquisition and launch of book publishing companies, and Thomson's entry into travel and information technology.

Born in 1916, he graduated in Economics and Statistics from the London School of Economics in 1938, starting work as the one-man research department of the young advertising agency Colman Prentis & Varley (CPV). When war came he was called to serve first as a regimental officer in the Royal Artillery and subsequently as a Statistical branch staff officer at Montgomery's 21st Army Group headquarters.

Returning to CPV post-war he launched a subsidiary company, Marplan, which became for some years one of Britain's leading market research agencies, with branches in several other European countries.

It was during this period that he developed the methodology then known as 'motivation research', publishing in 1958 Motivation Research: Its Practice & Uses, a book describing how indirect techniques can be used to obtain information not readily or reliably derived from direct questioning or discussion. This seminal work went into several editions and was translated into seven languages; most recently it was republished by the MCB University Press as 'a special classic reprint'.

Henry left the Thomson Organisation in 1970 and, already in his mid fifties, embarked on the third and enormously productive phase of his career. As Editor-in-Chief of Admap and author of the famous Lucifer column, positions he held until shortly before his death, he consolidated this publication's reputation for intellectual stringency and authority which sets it aside from the generality of newsy, advertising periodicals.

As he moved into his nineties - displaying breathtaking energy – his unflagging curiosity about new developments allied to a tendency to acerbity kept his writing lively and, as the poet said, 'Sustained his appetite and rage/Intact to an extreme old age'.

In 1983 he joined Mike Waterson in setting up what started out as a modest venture to launch a quarterly Food & Drink Forecast. This grew rapidly, metamorphosing by 1998 into Information Sciences and becoming one of the world's largest private sector suppliers of economic information through its operating arm NTC Economics, and the world's major publisher of advertising and media knowledge via the World Advertising Research Center (WARC).

Not surprisingly he was in much demand by industry and academic bodies. He was at various times (and often simultaneously) Visiting Professor of Marketing at the University of Bradford and at the Cranfield Institute of Technology; Industrial Professor of Marketing and Media Policy at the International Management Centre.

He chaired the Marketing Communication Research Centre, the statistics committee of the Advertising Association, the te