Matthew “Matt” Hennessey began his advertising career in 1934 when he joined E.R. Squibb & Sons. It was here he was to meet Arthur Sudler. In 1936, Sudler left to set up shop with Squibb as his charter client and Hennessey joined him. In 1942, Hennessey became a partner and Sudler & Hennessey was formed.
From those early days at E.R. Squibb & Sons, during his partnership with Arthur Sudler, and throughout his career, Matt always believed you could win the most games (accounts) by putting the best players on the field. An astute businessman and a fine judge of creative talent, Hennessey, along with Sudler, assembled an outstanding staff of bright young art directors like George Lois, Helmut Krone, Ernie Smith, Herb Lubalin, and, for a time, even Andy Warhol.
In the early days, Sudler & Hennessey did a broad range of design work—logos, packaging, corporate advertising programs, image projects and sales promotion for companies beyond the drug industry, including the Saturday Evening Post, McCall’s, and Ladies’ Home Journal. The original multicolored peacock was designed for NBC by Sudler & Hennessey.
In 1953, Matt conceived of the idea of a single-sponsor newspaper and presented the idea to CIBA Pharmaceuticals. Medical News was an innovation in pharmaceutical promotion. CIBA quickly became the second Rx client of Sudler & Hennessey. Subsequently, the Merrell, Schering, and Warner Chilcott accounts were added.
Matt, by virtue of his training, was a believer in the power of visual communication, using a visual image to separate a product from its competition. A pursuer of creative excellence, Matt was known for challenging his staff to reach for bigger, better, more memorable ideas.
Soon, the decision was made to concentrate on the drug industry. After Sudler’s death in 1968, Hennessey guided the organization as it became the largest US medical agency for a span of over 20 years (1970s-1990s). In 1972, Sudler & Hennessey became part of Young & Rubicam and began an expansion into the international arena.
Hennessey retired in 1984.