Richard J. Mercer, the creative mind behind seminal campaigns for Pepsi, Burger King and Campbell Soup, died Dec. 20 after an extended illness. He was 82. As a creative director at Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Mr. Mercer created Pepsi's 1963 "Come alive ... you're in the Pepsi generation." His "Have it your way" effort for Burger King in 1973 has been recognized by Advertising Age as one of the top 100 campaigns in history. He also created the "Manhandler" ads for Campbell and was a central figure in the marbles-in-the-soup ad controversy that made the advertising history books.
New spots raise old Tootsie Pop question
Tootsie Roll is finding the answer for its decades-old question as elusive as ever. The latest Tootsie Pop ad effort, from BC Group, Harleysville, Pa., revisits the question of how many licks it takes to get to the center but still provides no answer. It is no surprise that Tootsie Roll Industries would play off the popular campaign, which over time has intrigued countless consumers-and even scientists. Tootsie.com notes that at least three scientific studies have attempted to determine how many licks it actually takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
'Star Tribune' dealt to private-equity group
McClatchy Co. sold its largest paper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to New York- and Houston-based Avista Capital Partners for $530 million. The deal was the first recent example of a company with built-in voting control of its stock selling an asset under apparent Wall Street pressure. The shares held by the McClatchy family had 10 times the voting value of shares held by other holders. A lack of tiered shares was one reason dissident investors had little trouble breaking up Knight-Ridder Co. and pushing Tribune Co. onto the auction block recently.
Longtime CBS president passes away at age 98
Frank Stanton, the right-hand man to William S. Paley who helped turn CBS into a broadcasting powerhouse, died Dec. 24 at his home in Boston. He was 98. In 1946, he was named president of the network, a position he held for 26 years. Where Mr. Paley was still very much married to radio, Mr. Stanton saw the potential of TV, signing such luminaries as Jackie Gleason and making sure a fledgling sitcom called "I Love Lucy" signed with CBS, not NBC.