As his first project, Jean-Claude Boulos put up a building for the first television station in the Middle East, Tele Liban. In his last, he ran a television station in Iraq. He established his own advertising company and led it to prominence.
Over a career spanning 54 years, Jean-Claude was a shaper of television and advertising in Lebanon. Starting out as engineer who helped construct Tele Liban in 1958 he rose to become the station’s program director and a presenter until 1970.
The climax of his TV role was being appointed chief executive of Tele Liban in 1996. It also turned out to be his biggest disappointment, as he saw the station collapse from political infighting in the highest echelons of Lebanon’s government. Jean-Claude left Tele Liban for good in 1999.
His other big passion was advertising. He started his advertising career in 1970 and in 1973 built an agency from scratch that was merged in 2003 into the Memac Ogilvy network.
Since 1977 he was committed to global advertising communications with the International Advertising Association (IAA). The pinnacle of his involvement saw him as worldwide president of the IAA from 2002 to 2004. He led the Lebanese IAA chapter four times.
Despite his international affiliations, Jean-Claude remained in Lebanon out of a sense of duty to the struggling country and the Maronite community that he was part of.
“He had many visions. He was very patriotic and wanted Lebanon to shine. One of his visions was that he wanted the Lebanese to export their advertising services outside of Lebanon and I think he succeeded in doing that,” says his son, Naji Boulos.
“He impacted so many people in his life. Even when you rode with him for 30 seconds in the elevator, he found the time to make a joke, or say a nice thing about you. What characterized my dad was that he, all the time, did something creative and was creating until the last day of his life. He was full of ideas, had a lot of energy and a lot of humility,” says Naji.
His latest and sadly final professional achievement was getting the Al Sumaria television station in Iraq off the ground, a task he accepted in the summer of 2004. “It was the last big challenge for my father and really a success story because it is today among the favorite TV stations in Iraq,” says Naji.
Jean-Claude was intellectually at home in the Francophonie and loved the French language and literature. He authored four books and received numerous honors and accolades. He was a rock ‘n’ roll singer in the 1960s during Lebanon’s golden years and he loved to dance. He married at age 26, and on March 5, 2011, he and his beloved Blanche celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
When he was diagnosed with cancer his family was hopeful of his recovery, he had beaten the disease before. But it was not to be. He leaves behind his wife, his two daughters and one son, his six grandchildren and a huge legacy of media passion.
Jean-Claude, you will be missed.