NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- James R. Heekin Jr., former president of U.S. operations at two Madison Avenue agencies -- Ogilvy & Mather and Doyle Dane Bernbach -- and the father of Grey Global Group Chairman-CEO Jim Heekin, died this week. He was 82.
The elder Mr. Heekin was born in Cincinnati, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and graduated from Massachusetts' Williams College in 1948.
He got his start in the ad business by opening an agency, Peck-Heekin, in his hometown, and later joined Ogilvy in 1955. There he rose through the ranks over 14 years, from an account executive to senior VP, director and ultimately president of U.S. operations. Mr. Heekin was tapped for that role at age 39 in 1965 by ad legend David Ogilvy.
At the time of his appointment, Mr. Ogilvy ceded his chairman title to assume that of creative director. Mr. Heekin, in his trademark humorous style, told the New York Times, "I consider him one of the most promising young copywriters in the business. But if he doesn't produce ..."
In his time at Ogilvy, Mr. Heekin guided the agency toward becoming a public company in 1966 and founded the agency's first direct-marketing unit one year later. He also helped snare a bevy of new clients such as The Hershey Co., Gillette and Merck & Co.
In 1970, he oversaw the merger of Jack Tinker & Partners, then one of New York's creative hot shops, and Pitchard Wood for the Interpublic Group of Cos. Mr. Heekin embarked on the last leg of his agency career in 1972, becoming president of domestic operations at Doyle Dane Bernbach, after which he became a marketing consultant.
Mr. Heekin and his wife, Jane Jesup Heekin, were married for 61 years. In addition to his son Jim, he also leaves behind two daughters, a son, eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren and his Irish setter, Paddy.