An Ad Industry Icon and Trendsetter Passes the Torch

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Hal Riney, who helped build the West Coast as an advertising powerhouse for almost 46 years
Hal Riney will become chairman emeritus.
and lent his voice to dozens of commercials, has retired.

Mr. Riney, who will be 70 in July, held the title of chairman of Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, but had scaled down his activities at the agency in recent years. The agency today issued a statement saying Mr. Riney would take the role of chairman emeritus, helping on special projects "and continuing to advise the president's office when he'll be away fishing."

Scott Marshall, agency president, who is the shop's de facto creative leader spearheading a number of creative teams, continues at the post.

Industry reaction
When told of the news, Jeff Goodby, co-chairman, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, one of Riney's most famous alumni, quipped, "Is he really trying to float that retirement thing again? He never really retires. He's too meddlesome."

In 1976, Mr. Riney opened the San Francisco office of Ogilvy & Mather, now part of the WPP Group. Ten years later, with groundbreaking work for the E. & J. Gallo Winery under his belt, he bought back the agency.

Teaming up with General Motors, Mr. Riney's shop pioneered the automotive "import fighting" efforts under the Saturn brand. The agency used the tagline "A different kind of company. A different kind of car" for Saturn, and also developed a different kind of advertising approach. It

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integrated the Saturn persona into all aspects of the car's marketing, from letters to customers to slickly crafted TV commercials.

Agency of the year
That groundbreaking body of Saturn work led Advertising Age to name Riney 1993 agency of the year.

Other famous work out of the shop included Gallo's campaign for Bartles & Jaymes that used Frank and Ed, two old-timers who sat on a porch pitching the wine cooler with a down-home flair. In the political arena, Mr. Riney was best known for his "Bear in the Woods" spot, which is credited with helping Ronald Reagan win the presidential election.

Some of those spots used Mr. Riney as voice-over artist, a talent he exploited for numerous advertisers.

Mr. Riney scales back his duties at a time when his shop has suffered the loss of two major accounts, both of which were tied to his leadership. Earlier this year, Saturn awarded its business to Goodby Silverstein following a pitch. Later, the agency failed to pick up the $160 million Hyundai Motor Corp. account.

Remaining clients include part of the Hewlett-Packard Co. account, which the agency shares with Goodby Silverstein and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, New York, and Sprint PCS.

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