Commercial Alert's Ruskin Steps Down

Illness Forces Marketing-Industry Critic to Give up Day-to-day Role

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Gary Ruskin, who as co-founder and executive director of Ralph Nader's Commercial Alert has been one of loudest critics of rampant commercialism, but often among its most eloquent, is stepping down for health reasons.
Gary Ruskin
Gary Ruskin

In an e-mail today, Mr. Ruskin said he had contracted Lyme disease and two other tick-borne illnesses and was passing the torch. Robert Weissman, a longtime Commercial Alert adviser, will become managing director, and Mark Wittink will become campaign director.

As part of the move, Commercial Alert's headquarters will shift back to Washington from Portland, Ore., where it had recently been based.

Mr. Ruskin in the e-mail said he will continue to serve on Commercial Alert's board and has high hopes for the group. "With your help, Commercial Alert will keep growing, and we will protect our children and communities from commercialism," he said.

Under Mr. Ruskin, Commercial Alert has been critical of in-school marketing and media, direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, word-of-mouth marketing, and sale of junk foods and beverages in schools. The group has also attacked cities and school districts' use of naming rights.
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