David Davis, former CEO Edelman UK and Deputy Chairman, passed away earlier this week at age 87. He worked with my father for over two decades to build the global business from its American base. He began his career at The Times of London as a business reporter, joining Edelman in 1968 in the UK as one of the first employees. He was right-hand man to Michael Morley, President of our international operations.
I remember David as a businessman first and foremost. He brought the concept of budgeting to Edelman. He took us into financial PR with the acquisition of a boutique in London, Derek Dale and Associates. He also bought a B-to-B agency, Medalyer and Associates. He was the hardest worker in the firm, in early, home late, always with clients and available to counsel staff.
His favorite client was a UK-based holding company, Lex, headed by Trevor Chinn, an entrepreneur in travel and leisure. He was an expert at CEO positioning and crisis management.
He had a close relationship with my father, Dan Edelman. It started off in an odd way. Dan sent him a “welcome to Edelman” letter addressed to Dave Davis. David wrote back and said that nobody called him Dave, not even his mother. My father then wrote back to David a dutifully respectful note, without apologizing or explaining.
The early days of Edelman UK were the tale of a classic start-up. David spoke at the dedication ceremony for our new office in the UK, Francis House. He regaled the crowd with the tale of the first office on Albemarle Street with a large stain in the middle of the carpet. When clients would come to visit, account staff would take turns standing over the stain to ensure that it was not visible.
David and his wife Beryl came to Edelman's 65th Anniversary Founder's Day event on October 2, 2017 at Baruch College in New York, co-hosted with the Museum of Public Relations. David was our special guest, and when asked about Dan's best advice, he said: “The notion that you built a relationship with a client, wasn’t us. Dan’s approach was to get under the skin of the client--to understand what they wanted as individuals, and as a company.”
Earlier that day in the New York office he attended a brainstorming session and spoke with several of our young employees. His message was simple; a family business has a substantial advantage in a world of conglomerates, able to think long term and to zig when all the others are zagging.
He was a family man, survived by his incredible wife Beryl and son Jonathan, a tech entrepreneur and global thinker. He was a devout Jew, proud of his origins, committed to his faith.
I will miss him as a mentor and a friend. He is remembered in the Edelman Museum as one of the ten people who enabled us to be the different one. Rest in peace, David, you have earned it.
Richard Edelman is CEO.
A remembrance by Michael Morley, former head of the London office and Edelman International.
I cannot let the passing, on 26th December 2023, of dear friend and colleague David Davis go any longer without writing some memories of our time together at DJE, (now Edelman). One of our earliest clients was a brilliant young Dane, Kaj Jensen, who had the licence to market Heuga Carpet Tiles in the UK. This Dutch company was revolutizing the floor covering business in Europe and the UK. I arranged for Kaj to meet and be interviewed by David over lunch at the Savoy. David was at the time a reporter on the Business Section of The Times. Not long after David joined Audrey Baker and our small team at Edelman, then located in Albemarle Street.
I now realize that, in truth, it was David who was interviewing me as a prospective employer. He was doubtless impressed by the client roster we had already built up (Gillette, Kimberly-Clark , Finnfacts, Heuga, Chesebrough-Ponds and others). He was also attracted by the Jewish and journalistic heritage of Daniel J. Edelman, the firm's founder, in Chicago.
Our relationship blossomed into a successful partnership with David becoming Managing Director of Edelman London.
Increasingly, as my responsibilities involved me in the expansion and management of Edelman offices in Europe and beyond, David took a much more direct role in managing the office in London, an arrangement which came to complete fruition when I moved to New York in 1984.
I knew David as a devoted family man whose wife Beryl and son, Jonathon, were ever foremost in his thoughts. Yet, at the same time he was totally dedicated to his work at Edelman, as has been so warmly and well-described by Richard Edelman in his tribute to David.
Michael Morley, Deputy Chairman, President of Edelman International, 1967-2002.