Deceased July 19, 2013

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In Memory

John Bergin died on July 19, 2013. He served in the Air Force during World War II and continued on to Amherst, with the Class of 1950. (Later in his report, his good friend Ed Rowen will give more info on that period.) He will go down in history as one of the best pitchers to ever play for the Jeffs.

He began his career in 1950 at BBDO, New York. Starting as a copywriter, he soon became one of the most influential, creative leaders in the history of advertising. During his 23 years in that agency, he directed the creative work on Pepsi-Cola, Dodge, Campbell’s Soup, The New York Times, ABC Television, Gillette, B.F. Goodrich and many others. Two of his many award-winning campaigns, “The Pepsi Generation,” and “The Dodge Rebellion” were among BBD’s most famous of the time. He later then joined McCann-Erickson as Vice Chairman and Worldwide Director of the Coca-Cola account. His “Coke is it!” campaign ran in most of the 150 countries around the world in which the brand was sold. He was a noted and most articulate spokesman on and for the advertising industry. He was predeceased by Constance, his wife of more than 50 years, and his son Frank. He was the father of five children and 10 grandchildren.

From Ed Rowen: “My memories go back to childhood in New Haven where we were neighbors, our mothers’ best friends, and his judge father my father’s lawyer. He and his brother Tom were so identical that their mother couldn’t tell them apart, and they gleefully fooled her by often pretending to be each other until one had an abscess operation leaving a scar behind his ear so their mother solved the identity problem by saying “turn around!” Neighborhood kids were allowed one day a year to climb their giant backyard cherry tree and help themselves while aspiring pitcher John threw a baseball to catcher Tom, who later went to Princeton. Their father was a Princeton ‘10 star football player. At early Amherst, cut-up John was expelled, the president telling him, “I never want to see your face again.” When new President Charles Cole was elected, John wrote him from the army in Guam, “I am sorry to hear of my good friend’s departure, and I hope that when my service to my country is finished, that you will honor his promise to me to continue my education.” President Cole responded that he would personally honor that promise, and John entered the Class of 1950.

We roomed two doors from each other in Chi Phi where John kept a live kinkajou companion in a cage.

Thirteen years ago, Jim Jordan ‘52, past president of BBD&O advertising, arranged a Westchester lunch for the three of us to reminisce. It turned into four hilarious hours and several martinis while they recalled their competing product ads over the years (e.g., Coke vs. Pepsi). A small world, but they kept it in Amherst!!

George Hiller ‘50
Ed Rowen ‘50

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