Forrest Owen, Former BBDO Exec, Dies at 95

Advertising Exec Best Known for Work on Alka Selzer

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Forrest Owen
Forrest Owen

Forrest Flagg Owen, a former executive at BBDO and other agencies, died in Laguna Beach, Calif., on April 23, his family said. He was 95.

Mr. Owen began his career in advertising in Toledo, Ohio, in 1942, as a radio producer at WTOL Toledo and Alan Miller Productions.

He joined Wade Advertising in Chicago in 1944, producing the radio and TV series "Quiz Kids," and was an assistant producer of "National Barn Dance," both of which were sponsored by Miles Laboratories, the makers of Alka Seltzer. In 1946, Mr. Owen was transferred to Hollywood, Calif., to become agency producer of the radio shows "Queen for a Day" and "Lum and Abner."

Mr. Owen is best remembered for his role in the 1952 "Speedy Alka Selzer" campaign, for which he hired Dick Beals to be the voice behind the brand's advertising. He opened a TV production shop in New York in 1954, working with TV personalities including Garry Moore and John Charles Daly.

From 1956 through 1960, Mr. Owen was VP and manager of Wade Advertising's L.A. office, ascending to executive VP of its Chicago office from 1960-1965 and served as its president from 1965 until 1966, when Wade was sold to Interpublic Group.

Mr. Owen then moved to BBDO Minneapolis and headed the agency as its VP and Regional Manager from 1967 through 1975, representing clients Hormel and 3M.

Mr. Owen was born in Philadelphia, Penn., raised in Battle Creek, Mich., and graduated from Michigan State University in 1941. He is survived by his two daughters, Kathy Lee Sorensen and Drusilla O. Rowden; granddaughters Jennifer Raleigh and Erika Sorensen; and great-grandchildren Owen Raleigh, Grace Raleigh and Wallace Gabbert Smith.

In 2001, he received the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Diamond Circle Award.

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