L. Brian Holland, Nasdaq ‘Marketing Ace’ Behind Ads, Dies at 67

L. Brian Holland, Nasdaq ‘Marketing Ace’ Behind Ads, Dies at 67
L. Brian Holland, center, poses with his children Siobhan, left, Chris, center back, and Megan, right, on Oct. 15, 2011. Source: Family Photo via Bloomberg

L. Brian Holland, the marketing executive who fueled the growth of the Nasdaq Stock Market by harnessing the power of television advertising to build a brand, has died. He was 67.

Holland died of a heart attack on Aug. 14 at his farm in Greensboro, Maryland, according to his daughter, Megan.

He arrived at Nasdaq in 1989 as senior vice president of marketing after working at ad agencies J. Walter Thompson USA and Wells Rich Greene and at Chase Manhattan Bank. Nasdaq -- the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations -- had opened for business in 1971 as the first electronic stock market, focusing first on over-the-counter shares.

In 1989, “the exchange was in the shadow of the 1987 crash and had lost 10 percent of its companies,” Holland recalled in a 2000 interview with Industry Week. “My task was to stop that outflow and to increase market share of new companies that were listing.”

In particular, Nasdaq was trying to keep its much-better-known competitor, the New York Stock Exchange, from luring away any of its “fearsome foursome” listed companies, Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp. and Dell Inc., Charles Gasparino wrote in his 2007 book, “King of the Club: Richard Grasso and the Survival of the New York Stock Exchange.”

As the in-house “marketing ace” at the Washington-based National Association of Securities Dealers, founder of Nasdaq, Holland was asked by then-president Joseph Hardiman to devise the first advertising campaign by an equity market, according to Gasparino.

Ad Slogan

The ads, calling Nasdaq “the stock market for the next hundred years,” focused on success stories of listed companies such as Microsoft and depicted the NYSE as yesterday’s news.

“It is said he is to computer software what Thomas Edison is to the light bulb,” began one 30-second commercial that spotlighted the achievements of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

It ended: “Where in today’s world do you find companies capable of such astonishing growth? Actually, there’s a list of them printed every day. Nasdaq -- the stock market for the next hundred years.”

Holland worked with the New York advertising firm of Messner Vetere Berger Schmetterer, which today is part of Euro RSCG Worldwide Inc. Founding partner Tom Messner wrote in Adweek in 2005 that Nasdaq was “the first great campaign the agency did,” turning the market “into a brand that would drive the economy of the 90s.”

On Broadway

Holland was also a driving force behind MarketSite, the seven-story cylindrical tower in New York’s Time Square that serves as Nasdaq’s broadcast facility and high-tech advertising billboard for its member companies.

Describing MarketSite to the trade publication Brandweek in 1997, Holland said: “As we have attracted numerous companies which are definitely household names, like Staples, Starbucks, Bed Bath & Beyond, and of course, technology names like Microsoft and Intel, we saw an opportunity to demystify the Nasdaq for a lot of people, as well as make us more appealing to the news media.”

Lee Brian Holland was born on Jan. 8, 1945, in Chicago and was raised in Hockessin, Delaware, a suburb of Wilmington. He graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, in 1967.

Growing Corn

After leaving Nasdaq in 2001, Holland worked for Pipeline Trading Systems LLC, a New York-based broker-dealer that specialized in electronic block-trading of securities. He retired two years ago and lived at the Maryland farm that had been his summer home since 1988, raising crops such as soybeans and corn, his daughter said.

Nasdaq, the second-largest U.S. equity exchange, is currently owned by Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., which went public in 2002.

Besides Megan, Holland is survived by a son, Christopher, and a second daughter, Siobhan, from his first two marriages, which ended in divorce, and by his third wife, Dianna Lawrence.

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