Stuart Upson, Longtime Saatchi Exec, Dies at 89

Account Man Oversaw Agency as It Won Toyota, Launched 'Where's The Beef?'

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Stuart Upson
Stuart Upson

Stuart Upson, former chairman emeritus of Saatchi & Saatchi, died Oct. 31 in Darien, Conn., due to complications from a fall. He was 89.

Mr. Upson's six-decade career was spent at Saatchi & Saatchi (and it's predecessor), where he oversaw the agency while it launched some of adland's best-known campaigns.

Mr. Upson began his career in 1946 as a junior account executive in Chicago at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample -- an agency that was eventually folded into Saatchi & Saatchi in the 1980s -- after attending Yale University and serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. When he joined Dancer Fitzgerald, the agency was known primarily for developing radio soap operas for clients like Procter & Gamble and General Mills. In 1948 he moved to New York when Dancer Fitzgerald sought to expand into TV, and eventually became president and later chairman. He guided the agency through its 1986 merger with Saatchi & Saatchi, and he retired in 2011 as chairman emeritus.

During Mr. Upson's tenure, Dancer Fitzgerald helped launch Hanes Hosiery's Legg's in 1975, by encouraging the company to expand into grocery stores. The agency also won the Toyota account in 1975 -- a business Saatchi still handles today; it also helped Toyota launch Lexus in 1989. Dancer Fitzgerald is also responsible for what is arguably one of the best-known taglines: it launched Wendy's "Where's the beef?" campaign in 1984.

Mr. Upson was also chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies from 1980 to 1981; chairman of the Ad Council from 1990 to 1991; and president of the Fresh Air Fund of New York. He was inducted into the American Advertising Foundation's Advertising Hall of Fame in 2007

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Barbara Jussen Upson; his daughters Meg Nichols of Denver and Anne Marcus of Greenwich, Conn., his son Stuart Upson Jr. of New Canaan, Conn.; seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

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