Alex Faickney Osborn
|Alex Faickney Osborn|
May 24, 1888|
Bronx, New York, USA
|Died||May 5, 1966
Buffalo, New York, USA
|Occupation||advertising executive, writer, creativity theorist|
|Known for||co-founder of BBDO, development of Brainstorming|
|Children||Katharine, Joan, Marion, Russell, and Elinor|
Osborn was born in the Bronx and spent his childhood in New York, attending Morris High School (Bronx, New York) where he played football and was a member of the Omega Gamma Delta fraternity. He was a graduate of Hamilton College, where he had worked for the school newspaper.
Upon graduation, Osborn attempted a career in journalism in Buffalo, New York, and worked at the Buffalo Times and the Buffalo Express, though he was fired from the latter due to a supposed lack of aptitude. Osborn then worked a variety of jobs, which included working for a milling company as a statistician, doing publicity for the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce and working as a salesman for the Hard Manufacturing Company.
He then joined the E. P. Remington agency in Buffalo, an in-house advertising agency for a patent medicine maker, where he was appointed as new business manager. While working there, he did teaching jobs on the side, including lecturing on psychology for Ford Motor Company, and on advertising at the YMCA.
Founding of BBDO
In 1919, Osborn joined with Bruce Fairchild Barton and Roy Sarles Durstine to form the BDO advertising agency. Osborn acted as manager of BDO's Buffalo branch. He was largely responsible for the 1928 merger of BDO (Barton, Durstine & Osborn) with the George Batten Company to create BBDO.
After years of success and having survived the Great Depression, BBDO underwent a crisis in 1938, losing many of its clients and key personnel. Osborn commuted to New York City and eventually saved the company by securing the Goodrich tire account. In 1939, he became BBDO's executive vice president after Durstine resigned. Osborn was crucial in recruiting many top employees, including Ben Duffy, who eventually became the president of BBDO.
Osborn became increasingly active as an author, and published several books on creative thinking. In 1942, How To Think Up was published, in which Osborn presented the technique of Brainstorming, which had been used at BBDO. Eventually, Osborn's writing career overtook his work in advertising, and in 1960, after more than forty years, he resigned from BBDO’s board of directors.
In 1954, Osborn created the Creative Education Foundation, which was sustained by the royalties earned from his books. Along with Sidney Parnes, Osborn developed the "Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process" (commonly referred to as CPS). He co-founded the Creative Education Foundation's Creative Problem Solving Institute, the world's longest-running international creativity conference, and CPS has been taught at that conference as well as year-round in other venues for more than 50 years.
Notable advertising work
- General Electric
- Armstrong Cork
- General Baking
- Royal Crown Cola
- American Tobacco
- BF Goodrich
- Du Pont
- Wildroot Hair Tonic
- A Short Course in Advertising, London, New York: Sir I. Pitman & Son, 1921. OCLC 562025307
- How to "Think Up". New York, London: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1942. OCLC 562025301
- Your Creative Power, Scribner, 1948. OCLC 607142384
- Wake Up Your Mind: 101 ways to develop creativeness., New York, London: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952. OCLC 562025321
- Translated into Japanese by Kazuo Kuwana 想像の翼をのばせ : 創造力をきたえる101の方法 Tōkyō : Jitsumu Kyōiku Shuppan, 1968 OCLC 673718577
- Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953. OCLC 641122686 
- Revised edition, New York, Scribner, 1957 OCLC 1381383
- 3rd ed. New York C. Scribner 1963 OCLC 757425639
- French translation by Georges Rona, L'Imagination constructive: principes et processus de la pensée créative et du "brainstorming " Paris : Dunod, 1959
- Chinese translation by Ikkō Shō, 応用想像力 Taipei : Kyōshi Kōgyō Sōsho Shuppan Kofun Yūgen Kōshi, 1965 OCLC 673537763
Osborn also contributed frequently to trade publications such as Printer’s Ink.
On September 15, 1916 he married Helen Coatsworth, the daughter of a wealthy Buffalo lawyer. They had five children: Katharine, Joan, Marion, Russell, and Elinor. He died of a blood deficiency in Buffalo on 5 May 1966. He was cremated and his ashes are in a niche at Forest Lawn Cemetery (Buffalo-NY).