Obituary: Marie-Catherine Dupuy, an icon of French advertising

The co-founder of legendary French agency BDDP has passed away, leaving an enduring legacy of creativity.

von Mark Tungate , AdForum


We were sad to learn of the death of French advertising legend Marie-Catherine Dupuy at the age of 72, following a battle with cancer. Co-founder and creative head of BDDP and later vice-president and CCO of TBWA\Paris, she was also honorary president of the French Art Director’s Club (Club des DA).

It’s often been written that Marie-Catherine (known to her friends as “Marie-Cath”) was born to work in advertising. She was the granddaughter of Roger-Louis Dupuy, founder of the Dupuy agency in 1926, and daughter of Jean-Pierre Dupuy (who ran Dupuy-Compton after its merger with an America agency).

Marie-Catherine later joined Dupuy-Compton herself. Her contribution to advertising history was assured when she joined forces with Jean-Claude Boulet, Jean-Marie Dru et Jean-Pierre Petit to found BDDP, where she headed the creative team.

She remained in this role as BDDP evolved into TBWA\Paris. In 1998 she joined the creative board of TBWA\Worldwide, created that same year by Lee Clow. She was named vice-president and chief creative officer at the French agency in 2003.

Raising the reputation of French advertising internationally, she worked for clients such as Michelin, McDonald’s and Virgin. She encouraged the film director Jean-Jacques Annaud to make a commercial for Hertz and was behind a memorable slogan for French rail operator SNCF: “Progress is nothing unless everyone benefits.” (“Le progrès ne vaut que s'il est partagé par tous.”) 

A juror at the most prestigious French and international advertising festivals, Marie-Catherine Dupuy was the first French woman to chair the Clio Awards jury. She presided over the Club des DA from 2018 to 2021.

The organisation described her as “free-spirited and visionary”, adding: “Her agency laid the foundations for a ‘state of mind’ that still drives a whole generation of advertising practitioners today.”

Reiterating an extract from his memoirs, her fellow BDDP founder Jean-Pierre Petit stated: “Marie-Catherine’s intelligence, finesse and discretion were essential ingredients of our company. She alone was capable of tempering the ardour of her fiery associates. Her mind knew how to identify what was right, at the right stage, with the right words and in the right style. Daughter and granddaughter of admen, Marie-Catherine knew all the tricks of the profession…She attracted the best creatives around her. She knew how to guide us towards the right choice of campaigns, even when they involved risk.”



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