'Pepsi Generation' Creator Dies at Age 79

Alan Pottasch's Work for Soda Giant Made Him an Adland Legend

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The man who birthed the Pepsi Generation has died.
Alan Pottasch

Alan Pottasch

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Alan M. Pottasch, creative guru at Pepsi-Cola Co. for nearly 50 years, was the force behind countless campaigns including the Pepsi Challenge and star-studded efforts featuring Michael J. Fox and Michael Jackson. He died July 27 at age 79 in Los Angeles, where he was "doing what he loved best," according to a statement from the marketer: working on a Pepsi TV commercial.

Grand Prix winner
Launched in 1963, Mr. Pottasch's youth-targeted "Pepsi Generation" ad theme became one of the longest-running TV campaigns in history. It won him critical acclaim and launched him to near-legendary status in the industry. His commercials won more than 60 major industry awards, including the Grand Prix at Cannes.

"Alan had an extraordinary ability to understand and connect with people, whether they were his family, friends, colleagues or consumers of the brands he loved to market," said Roger Enrico, former chairman-CEO of PepsiCo, in a statement. "He was a beautiful person -- creative, talented, funny and caring. His passing is a great loss, his memory a great joy to all of us who loved him."

Mr. Pottasch was also instrumental to the relationship between PepsiCo and its longtime agency partner, Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide.

"It was an unprecedented alliance that produced over 35 years of award-winning advertising. Alan was the keeper of the creative flame, Pepsi's creative conscience, always putting the long-term health of the brands over quick-fix short-term solutions. Every company should be blessed with an Alan Pottasch," Phil Dusenberry, former chief creative officer of BBDO North America, said in a statement.

NYC native
A New York City native, Mr. Pottasch served in the Navy Air Corps during World War II. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from the Pennsylvania State University in 1949.

Before joining PepsiCo in 1957, Mr. Pottasch worked as a producer for ABC-TV in New York and was VP of the Kenyon & Eckhardt, an advertising agency.

He retired from PepsiCo in 1991 as senior VP-worldwide creative, but continued to work as a creative consultant for the company until his death.

Mr. Pottasch lived in New Fairfield, Conn., with his wife, Lisa, and their daughter, Allison. He was an active pilot and scuba diver.

He is survived by his wife and daughter, a son from a previous marriage, Alan Jr. of California, and a sister, Harriett Selig, of Florida.

Memorial services will be private, but a tribute to Mr. Pottasch is planned at PepsiCo's world headquarters in Purchase, N.Y., in September.
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