In 2002, one of the original “Mad Man,” John McGarry left his CEO position at Y&R along with Gorden Bowen and Stewart Owen to launch revered creative shop, mcgarrybowen. At one point the shop became the largest indie agency in New York and the 10th largest indie agency in the U. S. Unfortunately, the trailblazer lost his long battle with Parkinson’s and passed away on October 7. McGarry was 81.
McGarry started as an account coordinator at Y&R New York in the mid-1960’s. He rose up the ranks to become chairman and CEO of Y&R, which during his tenure was acquired by WPP. Notable campaigns from his tenure include Dr Pepper’s “I’m a Pepper.” While at Y&R, McGarry also met his wife Gilda Spurio.
Eventually, McGarry would leave Y&R with Bowen and Owen, to launch mcgarrybowen. McGarry was CEO, while Bowen served as Chief Creative Officer and Owen as chief strategy officer. Verizon would be the agency’s first client. That client list would grow with Disney, Kraft, United Airlines, Sears and Procter & Gamble.
In 2008 Dentsu Holdings USA acquired the agency and its digital arm Continuity. McGarry served as chairman and CEO of Dentsumcgarrybowen for four years before transitioning to an executive advisor capacity for Dentsu Group.
McGarry leaves behind a legacy of work that impacted advertising. Dentsu posted on Facebook a tribute to McGarry which read in part, ““It is with sadness that we acknowledge the passing of mcgarrybowen founder John McGarry, His passion for our business was unbounded and infectious. He loved what we did, who we did it for, and most of all, who we did it with. John believed that anything was not only possible, but probable. That spirit helped shape the agency’s success and growth across 33 countries, with thousands of talented individuals who bring his dream to life every day at dentsuMB. We will honor his legacy by forever embodying this spirit and creating work he would be proud of.”
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McGarry is survived by his wife Gilda, two children and four grandchildren.