Hal Riney retires to great agency in the sky at 75


Yes, 75 is fairly young, but ad legend Hal Riney was battling cancer. He began his career at BBDO, before moving on to Ogilvy and then founding Hal Riney & Partners in 1985. He has left us memorable campaigns such as Saturns strategy "a different kind of company, a different kind of car" the two old men who were Bartles and Jaymes, and even Reagan's 1984 campaign.

Trvia: In this bear ad you can hear Hal Riney's own raspy voice.

Jeff Goodby has written a long obit on adweek.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (6)

  • Dabitch's picture

    Ah, Riney video commenting, very apropos.
    Trivia - When at BBDO Hal hired composer Paul Williams to create a theme for Crocker Bank of San Francisco. The song, "We've Only Just Begun," went on to become a No. 1 hit by the Carpenters.

    Also, this is just cute from the SF gate:

    In his private life, Riney was a doting father who wrote and illustrated hundreds of unabashedly sentimental letters to his children. One of these included a poem explaining that the Easter Bunny was actually a lawyer for a special-interest group who, once a year, assuaged his guilt by distributing candy.

    Mar 26, 2008
  • Toste's picture

    Hal escaped a plane hijack once.

    "I just opened the goddamn emergency hatch, jumped out and ran like hell," Riney told The Chronicle that year. "I zigzagged while I ran, expecting shots that never came." Coming home, he circulated a memo to his staff that read, "A belated thank you for your concerns while I was on that airplane. Actually, my research shows that there were 37 in favor of rescue, 29 in favor of blowing up (the airplane) and the remainder undecided."

    Mar 27, 2008
  • Dabitch's picture

    Hal Riney trivia: his office at Publicis & Hal Riney had a giant Bison head mounted on the wall.


    Mar 27, 2008
  • Dabitch's picture

    One Club hall of fame, Hal Riney

    Advertising folklore has it that Ernest Gallo once said, "An agency is like a grape. You squeeze it dry and then you throw away the pulp." Whether Ernest truly made that statement is beyond me. What is true is that Hal's juices never stopped flowing.

    In fact, it could be argued that Hal has written and (or) art directed more commercials than anyone else in history. Doubtful? Consider this. There were one hundred fifty-three commercials in the Bartles & Jaymes campaign. Hal wrote every one of them. To equal his output on that account alone, a writer would have to produce a spot every month for the next twelve years or so.

    Obviously, it's not the quantity of work that's most important. Sometimes it's not even the quality. It's the gravity. In whatever spare moments Hal found between writing commercials and building an agency, he created work that would have a more profound impact on people's lives.

    Mar 28, 2008

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