Gene Case, 72, Dies of Heart Attack

Adman Worked on Big Brands, Liberal Political Campaigns

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Gene Case, who created advertising for both liberal politicians and large commercial brands, such as Tums and Volkswagen, died of a heart attack on Thursday in Manhattan, according to family members. He was 72.

Among the more well-known ad campaigns he worked on was the 1964 anti-nuclear "Daisy Ad" promoting Lyndon B. Johnson for president. It warned against the potential dangers of electing Johnson's Republican opponent, the hawkish Barry Goldwater, by depicting a little girl counting flower petals, whose sing-song intonation morphs into an ominous man's voice counting down to a nuclear explosion.

In the "Mad Men"-era 1960s, when advertising was glamorous and Mr. Case was a young man, he had "shoulder-length blond hair and fashion-model good looks, and was regularly noted in the press," noted a New York Times article from Feb. 16, 2003.

In the article, former Advertising Age Editor Fred Danzig said, "[Gene Case] was quite a guy in his day -- a creative leader with a great reputation. He was a golden-haired figure in the business, and I mean that quite literally."

In his 30s, Mr. Case helped create a New York advertising agency that eventually became known as Jordan McGrath Case & Partners. There, he devised the "Tum-te-tum-Tums" tagline for Tums antacid and "Thanks, I needed that!" for Mennen Skin Bracer. In the 1990s, the agency reached its peak in profitability, booking $500 million a year; in 1999, it was sold to the French ad giant Havas.

After about 25 years of advertising major commercial brands, Case returned to politics in 2002 when he helped found Avenging Angels, an advertising agency that creates campaigns for liberal organizations. Clients have included The Nation, the Democratic National Committee and Riverkeeper, an environmental group.

Mr. Case was born and raised in Knoxville, Tenn., where his father was the personnel director of the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the New Deal projects of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His father's positive experience with the New Deal likely informed Mr. Case's liberal leanings throughout his life. In the Times interview, Mr. Case said, ''I saw government lift [my home] region out of Appalachian-style poverty."

Mr. Case is survived by five children from three marriages, his third wife, his sister and nine grandchildren.

The infamous "Daisy" ad for Lyndon Johnson:

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