Michael Cunningham, Executive Creative Director at EMA, Dies After Long Battle with Cancer

Eric Mower and Associates mourns the passing of long-time partner Michael Cunningham, who was battling cancer. Cunningham will be forever missed by his family, friends and colleagues at EMA, where he devoted more than 30 years and cemented his industry-wide reputation for creative excellence, strategic leadership, personal loyalty, and devotion to fun. He was 59 years old.

“Michael knew his long contest with cancer was always stacked against him, yet he was courageous, constant and optimistic. He lived his life fully to the very end,” said Eric Mower, chairman/CEO of EMA. “Our respected partner, valued colleague and beloved friend left us with a treasure trove of marvelous and zany memories. We consider ourselves blessed to have shared so much with Michael for so long.”

Cunningham joined the Buffalo, N.Y., firm Levy, King and White in 1977 as an art director. He later became executive creative director and joined EMA in 1990 when the two firms combined. For the next 10 years, as EMA grew through further combinations, Cunningham transitioned into creative management and oversaw creative departments in EMA’s Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse offices. In 2000, Cunningham moved to EMA’s Atlanta office to serve the dual role of senior partner and executive creative director, leading talented teams of art directors and copywriters. He remained active in the agency until March.

During his tenure at EMA, Cunningham led teams that conceptualized, executed and refined strategic marketing campaigns for a range of clients, including some of the world’s largest and most respected businesses. He brought the agency's creative output to new levels of excellence, and added a new rigor and discipline to the creative process. The advertising industry continually recognized Cunningham’s gift for design and creative leadership by asking him to serve as a judge in the industry’s leading competitions for creative communications campaigns, including the national EFFIE awards and the John Caples International Awards.

Cunningham earned a bachelor’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. Originally from Cambridge, Mass., he most recently was a resident of Buckhead, Ga.

“For all the many years that Michael lived in upstate New York, he managed to maintain his stylish, classic trademark mode of attire, which featured never wearing socks regardless of freezing temperatures or amounts of snow. Michael had standards by which he lived and those traits extended into his professional life and made him a superlative creative mind,” said Mower.

Memorial services have not yet been announced by the Cunningham family.
 

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