Larry Lesser is one of the great pioneers of the modern (post-1970) healthcare advertising industry. An employee and disciple of the ‘founding father’ of healthcare advertising, Ludwig Wolfgang Frohlich, learning everything there was to know about healthcare advertising and, more importantly, the vast opportunity that direct-to-consumer healthcare advertising represented.
Lawrence J. Lesser was born June 1st, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York, NY. Larry attended PS 197, The King’s Highway Academy, where notable alumni include Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Charles Schumer. He went on to James Madison High School, where notable alumni also include Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, and the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Larry graduated from New York Community College with an associate degree in 1959.
Larry started his advertising career as an Assistant Account Executive at Friend Reiss Advertising, where he worked from 1959 to 1963. Larry was 25 years old when he got a job with the LW Frohlich Intercon Agency in 1963 as a Traffic Manager. Larry wrote in his journal about his time at the Frohlich Agency, “During the years at the Frohlich Agency, I grew from a Traffic Manager through several levels in Client Service to a position of Vice President, Director of Client Services, and a member of the Executive Committee.”
Larry worked at Frohlich with William (Bill) Castagnoli (affectionately known as Cas), and Larry introduced Bill to his sister-in-law Carol in 1964. Bill married Carole in 1966, and Larry and Bill became brothers-in-law.
Following the sudden breakup of the LW Frohlich agency in 1971, Larry, Bill Castagnoli, and V. Edward (Ed) Dent founded Medicus Communications with the help of NY-based consumer advertising agency Benton and Bowles. They started the agency with 16 Frohlich employees and three clients—Schering Plough, Marion Merrell Dow, and Proctor and Gamble (P&G). Proctor & Gamble had been a client of Benton and Bowles since the 1930s. With Larry and Bill’s relationship from their days at Frohlich, Medicus quickly established itself as a specialized healthcare advertising agency resulting in the promotion of Crest toothpaste to medical professionals in 1973. This was the first time a consumer healthcare product was promoted to healthcare professionals. Benton and Bowles purchased 100% of Medicus in 1978, and Larry assumed the role of President and CEO of Medicus Group International. He acquired Intercon International in 1980, and the company was renamed Medicus Intercon International, becoming the very first US healthcare agency to have international business outside the US.
Larry became a member of the Board of Directors of Benton and Bowles and Chairman of Medicus Group International in 1981. He went on to build Medicus Intercon into the world’s largest healthcare communications company with a broad service offering covering medical advertising, medical communications, medical education, PR, and sales training. Today Medicus and the agencies in the Medicus Group are still the core of Publicis Healthcare, and while the Discovery, InterScience, and Total Learning Concept brands no longer exist, they are still the foundation stones of the restructured Publicis Healthcare business.
Following his retirement from the MacManus Group in 1997, Larry became a consultant working with companies on strategic development, mergers and acquisitions, and mentoring young entrepreneurs.