Madison Avenue has lost another legendary adman. Saul Waring, a prominent advertising executive, passed away Feb. 12 at age of 84. Mr. Waring in 1968 co-founded Waring & LaRosa, a creative firm that went through the consolidation rush that reshaped Madison Avenue in the late 1980's and 1990's.
The Bronx native and son of immigrant parents led and grew the agency with his partner Joe LaRosa during the Mad Men-era creative boom of the 1960's. Despite its relatively small size, the company's efficient and high quality work scored top global brands, including Fisher-Price, Perrier, Swissair, Sony, Ragu and more.
"What made the firm successful was that it was highly independent firm known for its work ethic," said Robert Marston, founder, chairman, and CEO of New York-based Marston Strategic Communications. "Saul was a very disciplined manager, which did not happen in the advertising industry at that time."
Under Mr. Waring's leadership, the company created what later become known as "sitcom commercials," a series of humorous TV spots that featured the same family members along with a laugh track. The company also rolled out iconic slogans such as "Earth's First Drink" for Perrier, "Fly the World Swiss Class" for Swissair and "That's Italian" for Ragu.
To become more competitive in the global advertising sphere, the company in 1984 agreed to be acquired by Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborne. But the subsequent merger of BBD&O into Omnicom Group cost Waring & LaRosa half of its billings, such as Ragu and Perrier. That ultimately pushed Mr. Waring and Mr. LaRosa to repurchase the firm in1988.
Within next two years, the company won back Perrier and replaced Ragu with Progresso. The firm also took Madison Avenue by surprise when it poached back Fisher Price's $30 million account, which led to numerous award-winning campaigns.
Despite the bitter acquisition experience, the company in 1996 sold itself again, this time to Young & Rubicam. When their contract expired, Mr. Waring and Mr. LaRosa retired. They opened a not-for-profit firm called the Sagency, dedicated to bring arts and music to inner-city children and providing pro bono advice.