Joel Raphaelson, former creative head at Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago, dies at 92 – Crain’s Chicago Business


Joel Raphaelson, an advertising executive who opened a Chicago office for Ogilvy & Mather, which played a role in an advertising industry renaissance here during the 1980s, died July 8 in New York City, according to Ken Roman, a former colleague, who said the cause was heart failure. He was 92.

A creative head, Raphaelson was a confidant of founder David Ogilvy and had coined “Nationwide is on your side” for the insurer.

Ogilvy the firm counted Sears, Roebuck among its clients when the Chicago office opened in 1976. Adding Midwestern business, it lured Tribune Co., Schwinn, RC Cola, airplane maker Cessna and introduced NutraSweet for G.D. Searle, according to Bill Whitney, a former president of the office.

Ogilvy’s arrival, in the lair of hometown goliath Leo Burnett and Foote Cone & Belding, followed failures by other New York-based advertising firms to take root here (J. Walter Thompson being an exception). Raphaelson and his colleagues stressed its commitment with an ad created by Raphaelson, “Thanks for the peach pie, Chicago.” The ad referenced welcoming gestures from Chicago neighbors and strangers to the New York transplants, including a peach pie and, later, a dinner delivered to the Whitney family.

The Sears account “gave us enough money to hire a sizable staff,” says Whitney, 88. Besides the 21 employees who came from New York to the firm’s initial office in what is now the Aon Building, 43 joined here, he says.

“They didn’t throw their weight around,” says Kenneth Roman, a former Ogilvy CEO, recalling the firm’s subdued attitude, contrasting it with “all these (other) New York agencies. Guess what, one by one, they failed.”

Raphaelson was born into a creative family. His father, Samson, wrote the book on which the play and first talking picture, “The Jazz Singer,” was based. His mother, Dorshka, was a Ziegfeld Follies girl.

A pianist, Raphaelson studied with composer Arnold Schoenberg during a college gap year, and helped David Ogilvy, best known for creating the man with the eyepatch for Hathaway shirts, with his memoir, “Ogilvy on Advertising.”

“If you think it’s a lousy book, you should have seen it before my partner Joel Raphaelson did his best to delouse it,” Ogilvy wrote in the introduction. “Bless you, Joel.”

Raphaelson led the creative team for Shell, the agency’s largest account in the 1970s, and rose to senior vice president, international creative services, before retiring in 1994. He remained a Chicago resident, according to Roman, who wrote a biography of Ogilvy, “The King of Madison Avenue.”

Raphaelson is survived by his wife, Marikay, a fellow copywriter he met after joining Ogilvy in 1958, and three children.