Obituary: Jordan was creative perfectionist

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Advertising giant James Jordan, who coined several memorable taglines and later co-founded Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, died Feb. 4 while vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He was 73.

Mr. Jordan was known not only as one of the great creative minds in the business, but as a perfectionist and wordsmith who crafted phrases as if he were a sculptor. "He was a true poet," said Gene Case, one of Mr. Jordan's partners.

Mr. Jordan began his career in 1953 at Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn and penned memorable taglines, including: "Ring around the collar" for Wisk; "Delta is ready when you are," for Delta Air Lines; "Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one" and "Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch," for American Tobacco.

In a 1999 editorial for Advertising Age, former Jordan McGrath creative director Ilon Specht wrote that "Jim loved to hit you in the head with language. A slap with a powerfully turned phrase. If you liked it, you liked it. If you didn't, you still couldn't forget it."

Mr. Jordan rose to become president of BDDO but resigned in January of 1978, in what would have been his 25th anniversary with the agency, after what he called "differences in philosophy and priorities" with Bruce Crawford, then president-CEO of BBDO International.

Recently retired BBDO North America Chairman Phil Dusenberry, another creative legend, worked under Mr. Jordan for eight years. "Lesson one from Jim was to create advertising that broke through what he called the `boredom barrier,'" he said.

striking words

Indeed, when Mr. Jordan addressed the Association of National Advertisers annual conference in 1991, he warned attendees that glitz and image-heavy advs are not a quick fix. The next day, David Ogilvy began his own remarks by saying that Mr. Jordan's address was "the most valuable speech on advertising I've ever heard."

He is survived by his wife and seven children, including two in the ad business, J.J. Jordan III, a former executive creative director at J. Walter Thompson, and Michael Jordan, managing partner, Gotham, New York.

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