Saturday, July 31, 2010

Harald Vogt, R.I.P.

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.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear of the loss. First to his wife and children and to the industry.

Rest in Peace Tracy Pepe

Olfacta said...

I'm so sorry. He sounds like someone whose life was well lived, and so young to be gone.

Katy Josephine said...

So sorry to hear about this loss of a friend and colleague. It sounds like you shared an interesting journey together.

Your post is a fine tribute.

Brad Owen said...

I am so very sad to learn of Harald's passing. It's totally shocking; Harald and I had been in contact as recently as Tuesday.

Does anyone know what caused such a tragic and untimely death?

Is there a formal succession plan in place to see through Harald's vision at the SMI?

I hope that the conference planned for Miami this November will carry on in honor of Harald's memory. His years of dedication to our industry are truly deserving of a meaningful tribute from all of us.

Anonymous said...

I never met Harald personally, and we never spoke. However, when I found the Scent Marketing Institute and got in touch with him by email, I felt he was a friend. I'm so sorry to hear about this tragedy. I hope his legacy will live on.

Unknown said...

I never met Harald personally too. Got in touch with him via emails and he is very accomodating and always very cheerful. The way he writes always make me smile and laugh! I'm always looking forward to his newsletter.

This is really shocking and unexpected as I was very recently in touch with him. On behalf of our team, we would like to send our condolences to Harald's family.

May Harald rest in peace.

queen_cupcake said...

So sorry to hear about your friend Harald's passing. Those sudden departures are hard to take. He sounds like a great guy.

chayaruchama said...

What a lovely tribute, Avery .

Sending loving prayers for healing , for those left behind...
May he make G-d smile;-)

~x~ said...

i'm sorry.
death is a mother.

ggs said...

What a shock to lose your friend so unexpectedly. Thank you for writing such a thoughtful tribute about a life cut too short. My heart goes out to his wife and children.

~x~ said...

look out for those kids any way you can, friend.
you won't regret it.

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

OMG!!!! I am shocked!!!
I hope his family is ok.
He was a nice person...
My sincere deep feelings.