Richard Mercer Dead at 82

Adman Was Creative Force Behind Pepsi, BK, Campbell Campaigns

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NEW YORK ( – 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.
Richard J. Mercer
Richard J. Mercer

As a creative director at Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Mr. Mercer earned Clio Awards as the creator of three campaigns for Pepsi, one of which was 1963's "Come alive ... you're in the Pepsi generation." A milestone in the industry, the ad marked a move away from promoting the product's attributes toward linking the product with the consumer's lifestyle and attitude.

'Have it your way'
His "Have it your way" ad push for Burger King in 1973 has been recognized by Advertising Age as one of the top 100 campaigns in history. Mr. Mercer is credited with penning the notable phrase, "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don't upset us. All we ask is that you let us have it your way!" which was sung by Burger King employees in TV spots.

He's also credited with the "How do you handle a hungry man?" slogan for Campbell's "Manhandler" soup campaign. He also created work for the Chunky brand of soups. In a memoir published in Ad Age in 1994, Mr. Mercer explained how one of the biggest scandals in the ad industry, the infamous marbles-in-the-soup ad (which his shop created for Campbell), led to a four-year battle with the Federal Trade Commission and blazed the trail for corrective advertising.

From BBDO, where he was a president and board member, Mr. Mercer went to SSC&B and served as an exec VP of its creative department for eight years. When he retired, he was working for McCann Erickson.

Sox fan
A graduate of Rutgers University, Mr. Mercer frequently lectured at his alma mater on the advertising industry. He was also a decorated veteran, earning the Air Medal during his service in World War II. A longtime baseball fan, he rooted for the Red Sox.

Mr. Mercer was married to Muriel Davis for 54 years until her death in 1999. He is survived by his second wife, Joan Cozen Mercer, as well as his sons Richard of Westfield, N.J., and James of Palm Coast, Fla.; daughters Karen Palasinski of Needham, Mass., and Lesley LaRicci of Woodstock, Ga.; 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He is also survived by his twin brother, Robert, of Palm Coast, Fla.
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