Former Chrysler advertising executive Ronald DeLuca, who is partially credited for helping save Chrysler from bankruptcy in the 1980s, died Tuesday at the age of 91.
According to The New York Times, DeLuca died of complications of myelodysplastic syndrome.
DeLuca was a close hand of well-known Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca. When Iacocca joined Chrysler in 1978, he convinced advertising agency Kenyon & Eckhardt to leave its $75 million account with Ford to join Chrysler. DeLuca was a creative director at Kenyon & Eckhardt at the time and soon set to work with Iacocca implementing what he called a “paid P.R.” campaign.
The campaign entailed promoting Chrysler’s cause rather than its cars. Competing for market share with an influx of foreign automakers, the ads DeLuca cooked up for Chrysler challenged viewers to buy American and attempted to dispel negative rumors about the brand. Some featured Iacocca asking viewers “would America be better off without Chrysler?” while others had celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash promoting its message.
DeLuca was born in Reading, Pa. and a received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Syracuse University in 1950. He then served as an art director at Bozell Inc. before becoming a vice chairman with the company. Following his retirement in 1991, he continued to offer consultancy services for Chrysler.
Photo via NYT