Oscar Mayer Ad Guru Dead at 77

Jerry Ringlien Created 'My Bologna Has a First Name' Campaign

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- Jerry Ringlien, best known as creator of the "My bologna has a first name" campaign, died of a heart attack Monday in Wilkesboro, N.C. He was 77.
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Former Oscar Mayer marketing chief Jerry Ringlien is dead of a heart attack at age 77. In this video, he discusses the company's various ad campaigns.


Mr. Ringlien worked at Oscar Mayer for 23 years, rising to VP-marketing. During that time he worked on the "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener" campaign and later revived the popular "wienermobile."

"Advertising in the late '60s and early '70s was a very interesting and perhaps somewhat different time," Mr. Ringlien said in a video about the bologna campaign, posted on YouTube. "It was the principal media of communications for most companies."

Revolutionary research
The 1974 campaign grew out of play-group research with children, a revolutionary concept at the time. It's one of a few campaigns to last for 30 years.

"Jerry really was truly a marketing natural," said Elizabeth Harrington, a member of the board of directors at Chicago Mercantile Exchange who worked on the campaign with Mr. Ringlien at J. Walter Thompson's Chicago office. "He understood people and was able to capture their real language."

In a second YouTube video, Mr. Ringlien described the company's 1963 "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener" campaign as "the commercial that took Oscar Mayer to national distribution." (Oscar Mayer is now owned by Kraft Foods.) The tune is also one of Ad Age's Top 10 Jingles of the Century. The videos about Mr. Ringlien's work were shot by his son Brad, and posted in the last six weeks.

'Future executives'
Mr. Ringlien was born July 14, 1930, in Eau Claire, Wisc., the only child of Olger and Olga Ringlien. He served as an airman second class for the U.S. Air Force and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor's degree in commerce. In 1956, Oscar Mayer hired him as part of a group of 15 people designated as the company's "future executives."

Mr. Ringlien left in 1979 to serve as president of the Armour Processed Meat Co. He was VP-sales for Hanes from 1981 to 1985, general manager of Peck Meat Packing from 1985 to 1988 and VP-sales for Holly Farms/Tyson Foods from 1988 to 1990. He later worked as a consultant for Coleman Natural Meats and Perdue.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughter, Gina; son, Bradley; and two grandchildren, Sam and Lucy.
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