Mr. Johnson was the founding president of McCann Erickson-Hakuhodo, the first U.S.-Japanese jointly-owned agency, later serving as exec VP of McCann in Chicago, and chairman of Tinker Pritchard Wood, a sibling Interpublic agency in New York.
World War II
Born Maurice Carl Johnson, Jr. in 1920 in Chicago, he was the eldest son of the late Jeanne Norr and Maurice Carl Johnson, a civil engineer. He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, leaving in his junior year to enter Army Officer Candidate School at the outbreak of World War II.
As a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery, Mr. Johnson landed at Omaha Beach in Normandy four weeks after D-Day. He served both on the ground as a forward artillery spotter and in the air flying Piper Cubs above German lines during the Battle of the Bulge, until he was wounded by a shell fragment.
After recovering, he entered the retail sector in Chicago with Montgomery Ward, becoming the small appliance buyer for the then-renowned retailer. Following Ward and stints at Macy's and as VP of another buying service, Mr. Johnson joined Young & Rubicam in New York. He moved to McCann-Erickson in 1956, and after heading up their Westinghouse account, was asked by legendary McCann Chairman Marion Harper to open up a Tokyo office in 1961. He was installed as founding president of McCann Erickson-Hakuhodo and built the agency from 15 people to over 200 within three years.
Tinker Pritchard Woods
The joint venture established by McCann and Japan's oldest agency served global accounts like Coca-Cola, Nescafe and NCR, as well as domestic Japanese accounts such as Mitsui and Sumitomo. In 1964, Mr. Johnson was transferred back to Chicago, where he headed McCann's business in the Midwest and Canada as exec VP, leading such accounts as Peter Pan and Swift.
In 1969, he was named chairman-CEO of Tinker Pritchard Woods in New York, an Interpublic offshoot agency resulting from the merger of Jack Tinker Partners and the British agency Pritchard Woods.
Mr. Johnson left the ad world in 1975 and entered the manufacturing field, first as president of Barton Brands, the distilled spirits company, in Chicago, and later as president of Sensation Corp., a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment based in Wisconsin. He also served as Chairman of Peoples Phone Co. in Darien in the late 1980s.
Mr. Johnson remained active in U.S.-Japan business relations. A member of Jetro's U.S.-Japan Business roundtable and president of the U.S.-Japan Business Institute, he became a noted source on U.S.-Japan business topics, frequently speaking on marketing and consumer issues and publishing articles in the Chicago Tribune and Nikkei Weekly.
Mr. Johnson was predeceased by Norie, his wife of 58 years, in 2005. He is survived by his three sons, M. Carl Johnson III, Craig Johnson, and Larry Johnson, and four grandchildren. Johnson is also survived by his brothers Joseph and Thomas, and his sister Anne Miller.