BOSTON Jim Jordan, a former ad agency owner and creative executive who helped craft some of the industry's best-known campaigns during a career that spanned five decades, died on Wednesday while snorkeling in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He was 73.
The cause of death is presumed to be a heart attack, according to his son Michael Jordan, a group creative director and managing partner at Interpublic Group's Gotham in New York.
Born in White Plains, N.Y., and a graduate of Amherst College, Jordan joined BBDO in New York in 1952. A copywriter, he rose steadily through the ranks to head the creative department and gained industry stardom in 1968 when his "Ring around the collar" line for Lever Bros.' Wisk detergent crossed over into pop-culture. He subsequently came up with tags such as "Delta is ready when you are" and Campbell's "Soup so chunky, you can eat it with a fork."
He was serving as BBDO's president by 1977, the year he left the shop. In 1978, he formed James Jordan Inc. in New York, working for clients such as Gillette, Pillsbury, RJR and Welch Foods, merging in September 1980 with crosstown agency Case & McGrath to form Jordan, Case & McGrath.
The agency went through several name changes in the 1980s and '90s, but enjoyed steady growth and considerable creative success. In 1983, the shop helped introduce the Trivial Pursuit game and the agency's late-1980s TV effort for Quaker Oats, starring crusty actor Wilfred Brimley and carrying the Jordan-penned line, "It's the right thing to do," emerged as one of the era's best-known campaigns.
Jordan retired as chairman of the shop, then known as Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, in April 1995. By then, billings were $450 million and the agency ranked as one of the nation's largest independents. It was sold to Havas' Euro RSCG Worldwide network four years later in a deal estimated at $60 million.
Jordan leaves his wife, Mary Helen; three sons and four daughters; a brother and a sister; and 11 grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at St. Augustine's Church in Larchmont, N.Y.
—Adweek staff report