Robert Cox, an outspoken New York advertising executive who helped Ford Motor Co. embrace the slogan “Quality is Job 1” in the 1980s and later worked on ad campaigns for Honda, Saturn and a Mercedes-Benz dealership in New Jersey, died June 18. He was 78.
As an art director in the 1980s, Cox was credited by his peers for the radical overhaul of standard car and truck advertising at the time by showing a vehicle in profile.
“Before, it had always been a front three-quarters view, or a back seven-eighths,” John Ferrell, the chief creative officer of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in New York, told The New York Times in 1989. “That work showed a fine sense of design and a real reduction of elements to their ultimate simplicity.”
Cox, who also helped craft first lady Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug pitch, “Just Say No,” in the 1980s and “All aboard!” for Amtrak, later came to decry the ubiquity in automotive advertising.
When BMW dumped Fallon Worldwide in 2005 because the “all-silver-all-the-time” carmaker felt the ad agency wasn’t being original enough, Cox called it a bum rap.
“What BMW should do is fire Chris Bangle, the designer who went completely bonkers on the 7 Series trunk lid,” Cox wrote in Adweek in February 2006.
Robert Cox was born in New York City in 1937 and later attended Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, according to The New York Times.
Advertising ran in the family. Cox’s dad was an advertising art director.