Steve Chinn obituary | Advertising
My friend Steve Chinn, who died at the age of 62 after a long illness, was the director of global planning for Saatchi & Saatchi before pursuing other interests in politics, philosophy and medicine.
Born in Coventry to Catherine (née Fleck) and Robert Chinn, Chartered Accountant, Steve was educated at the city’s Bablake School before going to Lancaster University to study sociology. He graduated in 1981 and the following year he married classmate Dee Amy.
In his early twenties, Steve was an active member of the Labor Party and led their campaign management team in Coventry. He was also an accomplished athlete. A 4th-dan black belt in judo, aged 22, he was just one victory away from representing Great Britain at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
After leaving university, Steve joined the NOP research group as a graduate trainee and then, from 1985, worked for the advertising agency BBDO in London as a strategic planner. In 1992, he was appointed Director of Planning at Saatchi & Saatchi, before moving to New York to revitalize its US business. Returning to the UK in 2000, he worked for McCann-Erickson as Global Strategy Director.
From 2007 Steve became an independent strategic consultant to support Dee in her academic career, moving to Oxford to teach at Oxford Brookes University, then to Stirling when she began teaching in the Department of film and media studies from the university. As a member of the department, I got to know Steve soon after and we worked together on several projects.
Steve also had a long-standing connection with humanist associations in the UK. He was General Secretary of the Humanist Society Scotland (2012-13) and later joined the Society’s Board as one of its Trustees.
In 2013 Dee was diagnosed with bowel cancer and died two years later. Motivated by the experience of caring for her, Steve embarked on a PhD focused on the work of consultant oncologists. Its goal was to come to a better understanding of their work practices and to develop practical ways to support the well-being of this professional group. He began his PhD fieldwork in 2017, but in December 2018 he was diagnosed with a serious illness that affected both the lungs and the kidneys.
Despite this adversity, Steve continued to work on his PhD as well as participating in the Stirling4Europe Group’s efforts in the run-up to Brexit and teaching in the Communications, Media and Culture Division at Stirling.
Not only did he manage to maintain a positive outlook on life, but he became an inspiring member of the postdoctoral community. As one friend put it, “His natural curiosity, sharp intellect…and compassionate nature made him both a wonderful faculty member and a truly top-level researcher.
The University of Stirling awarded Steve a posthumous doctorate.
He is survived by his father, Robert, and his brothers, Andy, Paul and Andrew.