Reva Korda, Pioneering Ad Executive, Dies at 81

Former Creative Head of Ogilvy & Mather Also Wrote About Women's Careers

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NEW YORK ( -- Reva Korda, the former creative head of Ogilvy & Mather who was said to have come up with the famous long-running Maxwell House coffee percolator spot, died last week from cardiac arrest. She was 81.

A pioneering woman in the ad business, Ms. Korda was named one of TV's top 50 visionaries by Advertising Age in 1995 with the following write-up: "[Ms. Korda] championed the 'real people' campaigns considered a hallmark of O&M's TV efforts, and insisted through 'the Korda commandment' that each commercial 'talk to one person,' much the way founder David Ogilvy's long-copy print advertising did."

Ms. Korda worked at Ogilvy for almost 30 years, starting as an assistant copywriter in 1951 and working her way up to creative chief before leaving in 1980 to start her own agency. Along the way, she served as a senior VP, copy chief and member of Ogilvy's board of directors.

Speaking up for 'supermoms'
As one of the most prominent women in the ad business, Ms. Korda gave a telling perspective on gender in advertising in an August 1984 New York Times piece called "Some 'Supermoms' Who Led the Way," which featured prominent career women who "bucked the tide of their times" by having children and staying in the workforce. Ms. Korda, who is survived by a son and a daughter, told the Times, "When I looked around the conference table I was always the only woman in the room, and two years after I became a vice president, I was also the only pregnant person in the room. I could sell anything when I was pregnant because men wanted to get me out of the room. It was a wonderful weapon."

Ms. Korda retired from advertising in 1983, and went on to write a semi-autobiographical novel called "Having It All," described by the Seattle Times as a "well-written account of what happens when a 49ish executive woman in a large advertising agency discovers she's hit the glass ceiling."

Mrs. Korda is survived by her husband, William, her son, Joshua, and her daughter, Natasha. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations are sent to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. A memorial service for Mrs. Korda will take place tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York.
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