Saturday, July 31, 2010
I lost a friend, a sounding board, a collaborator and a co-conspirator this week. Harald Vogt, an innovative marketer and scent technology evangelist, died suddenly and unexpectedly. Like many others, I’m shocked and bewildered; it’s hard to imagine Harald—that dynamo of entrepreneurial energy—gone quiet.
It was Harald who in 2005 single-handedly created the Scent Marketing Institute, and who inspired the opening of affiliates in Poland, Finland and the Netherlands. He was the unstoppable organizing force behind the annual ScentWorld Conference & Expo: the first in 2008 in New York, the next in Las Vegas, and this year’s slated for November in Miami Beach.
Harald and I were competitors in the dot com era—he worked for the German-based outfit Aerome, and I for DigiScents, Inc. Aerome spluttered out and DigiScents imploded, but by 2003 Harald and I were collaborating on our own scent projects. We made the rounds of the fragrance houses to pitch the Scent Marketing Institute (Harald was the Chief Marketer, I was the Chief Scientist). We did press interviews, including a memorable lunch with a reporter from New Scientist at The Odeon on West Broadway, where at the next table Salman Rushdie held court with a bunch of publishing bigs.
Every September we would walk the floor of the HBA show at the Javits Center and compare notes on where the industry was headed. We left the 2005 show early and took the subway across town to see an unusual little gallery featuring scented artwork by a guy named Christophe Laudamiel. Four years later, Harald and I went to Laudamiel’s groundbreaking Green Aria at the Guggenheim.
Out on the town, Harald was always the best company: my memories of him are intertwined with lunches, dinners, drinks and talking. His story-telling—done in emphatic New York style with a German accent—was vivid and entertaining. Coming to America as an adult, he had the newcomer’s freshness of perspective; unleashed from what he regarded as Germany’s uptight business atmosphere, he reveled in the freedom and opportunities he found here.
Harald leaves behind his wife Caroline and their six-year old twins. He also leaves an enormous reservoir of goodwill and gratitude.
May you rest in peace my friend.