When I came to know it, I held my tongue. I expected a jumble of comments by more or less known “big guns”, however more appointed than me. After all, he was the “Livraghi” in Livraghi, Ogilvy & Mather (people who work in marketing industry should know what does it mean to have the strength and the moral authority to place your own name before someone like Ogilvy). Therefore who was I to….
I knew (in person, I was already aware of its reputation) Giancarlo Livraghi more than ten years ago. With a gang of reckless guys, I had organized a workshop about Trusted Computing (who does not know what Trusted Computing is, please take a tour on specialized sites) at Informatics Dept. of Milan University. I armed myself of gall and contacted him: he was the President and Founder of ALCEI, the italian Association that defends freedom and privacy in Internet (it is the italian section of EFF)… rather “the Internet”, how Giancarlo named it as the exquisite philologist who he was. He invited me to go out for lunch and we dealt with the programme and his contribution.
We agreed immediately, talking of the destructive power of stupidity. He, who had written an ideal contribution to Carlo Cipolla’a book, and I, who had prepared an essay for the Economincal Policy course, held by another gentleman who nurtured boundless interests and boundless culture and, exactly like Giancarlo, had a boundless curiosity: Oscar Garavello.
In the workshop, after several contributions about technical aspects, Giancarlo took the floor and in 15 minutes he threw in it from greek philosophy to Huxley. It was a moment of grace.
I can’t succeed not to think his last personal message to me was a comment to one of the most fool posts of mine on Facebook: I asked advice about which movie to choose on TV. While other friends stood on one or else, he wrote “Why don’t you read a good book?”. I followed his suggestion, of course.
I can’t succeed not to think one of his last works was The Decline of Violence, a study that examines (with Giancarlo’s usual abundance of qualified sources) the fact in western Countries violence is declining quantitatively. In a political scenario where each semiliteratemental impaired politician (every reference to current italian Government and parties is never casual, it is done on purpose, like Costa Gavras could say) casts the alarm cry against “insecurity”, Giancarlo was always out-of-the-box…
I know he left us noiselessly, because he liked to reflect and study noiselessly to write a text that he had reasoned every detail, punctuation included.
I want to believe that – at the moment to leave – he had thought “Damn it, I had booked that study by Finkel and it hasn’t arrived yet. I wanted to write my follow-up about Noah’s Ark… oh, that’s fine, someone else will take care of it“.
Because he knew well that knowledge is a construction by a collectivity… we can only decide to participate for the sole lapse allowed by our life.
Giancarlo Livraghi was born in 1925. In 1966 he was appointed CEO of McCann-Erickson, which five years later became the largest advertising agency in Italy. In 1971 he became chairman of the European new business committee and head of Southern Europe (happily nicknamed “the garlic belt”.) In 1975 he was moved to New York as executive vp of McCann-Erickson International. He came back to Italy in 1980 as the chairman and majority partner of Livraghi, Ogilvy & Mather, then a small agency that grew thirtyfold in the following years. He left the agency business in 1993 and he was continuing to study human communication and culture – as well as consulting on marketing and business strategy.
His site: www.gandalf.it is a plenty of wisdom and information. This Blog is quite debtor to it.
Giancarlo Livraghi left us in 2014, February 22… We miss him. Wise, clever and sense-of-wit people are more alone today.