I heard about Donald Kummerfeld in 2005 while organizing the first ever Indian Magazine Congress (IMC). I was told that Don runs this huge magazine association called FIPP (International Federation of Periodical Publishers).
Ashish Bagga, Group CEO of India Today Group, spoke to me about FIPP and Don while organizing IMC. Sometime after that, Chander M Rai, then CEO of the international business of India Today Group, told me about Donald.
My meeting with Donald happened much later in 2006. When I actually met him, I realized I was interacting with someone who was very entrepreneurial in his approach, someone who thought ahead of his times and was truly multi-cultural and multi-dimensional in more ways than one. Every time you met him, you liked him more. I had one more reason to be extra fond of him.
In 2008, I was speaking at the American Business Media Conference in New York. There was a reception at the United Nations for the speakers. That evening, Donald took it upon himself to introduce me to everyone. He was the marketer gladiator among all publishers. He was a giant and everyone knew him. And he introduced me and my company as the ‘Crain Communications’ of India (it is the parent body of Advertising Age, the leading global source of marketing, advertising media news). After the cocktail ended, we were going to the Modern Restaurant in Manhattan. We sat in a bus and next to me sat a tall man. He asked me “So, you are from India? What do you do?” I proudly said, “Donald Kummerfeld introduced me as the Crain Communications of India.” He said, “Really! I am Rance Crain (owner of Crain Communications and the publisher of Ad Age).” It was post that encounter that Ad Age and my company tied up. So, whenever anybody asks me about my tie-up with Ad Age, I give the credit to Donald Kummerfeld.
Donald didn’t just encourage me, but the entire community of magazine novices and publishers of India to get more international magazine licenses and publish them in India. He was the bridge between the global magazine world and the Indian magazine publishers. He was the one who proposed to the AIM and to Chairman Aroon Purie that we bring the World Magazine Congress to India. Last year, this congress was staged very successfully in our country.
With the demise of Kummerfeld, the world magazine community has lost an ambassador, a giant and somebody who had contributed immensely to the business and knowledge of magazines globally. He was what I would call ‘Mr Magazine’ and the brand ambassador of magazines globally.
What Socrates said holds true for Donald – “All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine”.
LIFE AND TIMES OF DONALD KUMMERFELD
A well known name in the world magazine fraternity, Donald Kummerfeld, lovingly called Don by friends and colleagues, was the president and CEO of the International Federation of Periodical Publishers (FIPP) from 2001 to 2009. He was also the former CEO of Magazine Publishers of America (MPA). During, before and after his tenure at FIPP, he constantly strived to increase popularity of magazines in the world. In India, he drove the magazine movement and provided full support for the creation of the All India Magazine Association. Additionally, Kummerfeld’s publishing experience includes being President of News America Publishing Inc, a diversified communications company whose publications included the New York Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Boston Herald, the San Antonio Express News, New York Magazine and the Village Voice.
Kummerfeld also had an active public service term. During the fiscal crisis of New York City in 1976-78, he served as Budget Director and First Deputy Mayor of the City. An obituary published in New York Times calls him ‘a budget director and first deputy mayor whose insistence on financial discipline and deft political touch helped steer New York City away from the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970s. Kummerfeld passed away on Thursday in Jersey City, US at the age of 78. He is survived by his wife Beth, daughter Tia and grandson Alexander.