Hal Riney, Ad Industry Giant, Dies at 75

Posted by on Mar 31, 2008 in Advertising | No Comments

Mr. Riney, who died of cancer a few days ago, maybe did as much for the advertising industry as any person in recent memory. He worked his way up from the mail room to be the head creative director at BBDO, built Ogilvy & Mather’s west coast office from scratch, and then founded his own agency he’d later sell to Publicis.

A different kind of agency. A different kind of adman. That was Hal Patrick Riney, who died from esophageal cancer March 24 at age 75. A study in contrasts, he decried the client-coddling of what he called advertising’s “suits,” yet at times epitomized the drinking, cussing “Mad Men” era. He was a cantankerous curmudgeon who could bring tears to the eyes with a commercial about depositing money in a bank. He was a creative titan whose outsize ego was counterbalanced by an “aw shucks” alter ego.

Whatever success I’ve achieved has come from pretty much doing the opposite of what I’ve been told or expected to do,” Mr. Riney told students at the Academy of Art College during one of his last public-speaking engagements.

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