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WASHINGTON-In the final analysis, it was experience in virtually every segment of business that landed John J. Sarsen Jr. the job of president of the Association of National Advertisers.

Mr. Sarsen, 52, the fifth full-time president in the ANA's 83-year history, takes over May 1 from Harry Davis, the ANA's 1993 chairman who was elected president in November. Mr. Davis, a former Du Pont executive, will have served five months after succeeding in a caretaker role DeWitt Helm Jr., who resigned in 1993 after 10 years in the post.

The ANA's search for a new leader elicited hundreds of applications, many from well-known retired executives, but the ANA wanted someone relatively young who was still actively employed. There were two finalists for the job as spokesman for the nation's largest advertisers and marketers.

"John offers us a depth of experience in management and a passion for advertising and marketing," ANA Chairman Richard Garvey said in a prepared statement. "His experience-domestic and off-shore, retailer and manufacturer, client-side and agency-side-at some of the top marketing companies in the country, and as an entrepreneur in his own business, provides a balance of leadership skills and good old-fashioned know-how that the association will benefit from."

Mr. Sarsen, who declined to be interviewed, most recently headed his own company, Sarsen & Co., specializing in business and marketing consulting. His clients included RJR Nabisco, PepsiCo, General Foods and Citibank.

Previously Mr. Sarsen, a native of Wayne, N.J., was president of the Marketing Partnership, a Greenwich, Conn., consultancy. He began his career at General Foods in 1966 and two years later moved to J. Walter Thompson Co. as an account exec. He returned to General Foods in 1969, then left in 1973 for Pepsi-Cola Co., where he was VP-marketing. After serving in Tokyo until 1976, he accepted the post of senior VP-U.S. Franchise Operations at Canada Dry Corp.

He later was senior VP-group executive at Chase Manhattan Bank, and exec VP-marketing for Grand Union Corp.

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