Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ad Man Gene Case Passes

Advertising executive Gene Case, who worked on campaigns from Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 campaign for president to ones for Skin Bracer and Tums, passed September 9, 2010 at the age of 72. The cause was a heart attack.

Gene Case was born on December 6, 1937 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He attended Cornell University where he majored in architecture. In 1961 he joined the field of advertising when he became a copywriter with the J. Walter Thompson agency. By 1964 he was working for Doyle Dane Bernbach. It was there that he was part of the team that conceived the notorious "Daisy ad" for the Johnson presidential campaign, which capitalised on fears regarding Barry Goldwater without even mentioning his name. Mr. Case wrote the copy for another notable commercial for the Johnson campaign, in which a young Republican discussed his fears of Barry Goldwater being over eager to use nuclear weapons. In 1966 Mr. Case was largely responsible for the ads for the campaign to re-elect Nelson Rockefeller as governor of New York. It theme was simply "Governor Rockefeller for Governor." After he and others founded the agency Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, he worked on ads for Robert F. Wagner's New York mayoral campaign.

Of course, not all of Gene Case's work in advertising was in political campaigns. It was at Jordan McGrath Case & Partners that he conceived the famous campaign for Skin Bracer in which various men in commercials would either slap themselves or be slapped across the face only to respond, "Thanks, I needed that (among the men was a young John Goodman)." He also conceived the famous campaign for Tums which used a musical tag of "tum-ta-tum-Tums" to the tune of the "Dragnet Main Title."  It was in 2002 that he re-entered politics by founding the agency Avenging Angels, which specialised in campaigns for liberal causes.

Regardless of what one thinks of Gene Case's politics (this blog is not the place for such discussions), one must admit that he was a great ad man. Although not one of the major figures to work on the infamous "Daisy ad," he was one of the team who worked upon it. And the ads we know he wrote for Lyndon B. Johnson and Nelson Rockefeller were pure genius. Although best known for his work on political ads, it will perhaps be his work in the commercial sphere that will be best remembered. The "thanks, I needed that" campaign for Skin Brace and the "Dragnet Main Title" campaign for Tums were two of the best known campaigns of the past twenty five years. Many ad men are lucky to work on even one campaign that is memorable. Gene Case worked on several.

No comments: