Edward Noonan Ney, former Young & Rubicam chairman and chairman emeritus, as well as a former diplomat, died on January 8. He was 88 and a Southampton summer resident.
Mr. Ney served as Y&R’s chief executive officer and then chairman from 1970 to 1989, having joined the agency in 1951. He returned to Y&R in 1999 as chairman emeritus.
Mr. Ney was widely regarded as one of the leading advertising counselors and strategic marketers. In the 1970s, he was the first to understand that in a changing marketplace clients would benefit from a full range of marketing communications disciplines, according to Y&R. Mr. Ney began acquiring companies, pioneering integrated communications—what he coined The Whole Egg—and acquired the companies that became Young & Rubicam Group. The Whole Egg back then was a radical concept and transformed not only Y&R, but the entire industry, the company said.
Martin Sorrell, chairman and CEO of WPP, Y&R’s parent company, said Mr. Ney “understood, probably more than anybody else, both the power of agency brands and, at the same time, the paradoxical need to bring them together…. He understood it all and saw it sooner than most.”
After Y&R, Mr. Ney served as the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, where he played a key role in efforts to expand the U.S./Canada Free Trade Agreement to Mexico. He spent some time after at Burson-Marsteller, chairing their worldwide board of advisers. In 1995, he also became chairman of Marsteller Advertising, which was subsumed in Burson-Marsteller in 1979, when they merged. During his long career at Young & Rubicam, he continued to shape the firm’s diversified global communications framework.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Mr. Ney the Most Influential Person in Advertising throughout the majority of the 1970s into the early 1980s.
Mr. Ney served on the International Advisory Board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and was a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame and an honorary chairman of the Advertising Council. He served as a trustee of the Paley Center for Media and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He received the Gold Medal (for Advertising) from the International Radio & Television Society in 1989.
A graduate and life trustee of Amherst College, Mr. Ney also was a trustee of both the Bush Presidential Library Foundation at Texas A&M and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. He held honorary degrees from Amherst College, Georgetown School of Business, Iona College and St. Lawrence University, and was a founding trustee of Hampshire College in 1970. He served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946 and then in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1947 to 1950.
Former President George H. W. Bush, for whom Mr. Ney served as the U.S. Ambassador to Canada from 1989 to 1992, said, “Barbara and I were saddened to learn of Ed Ney’s passing,” according to Y&R. “Ed was more than a good friend,” they quoted the former president as saying. “He was a very talented man who set aside his successful career in private life to serve so ably as our nation’s representative with our ally to the north, Canada, during a fruitful time in that vital bilateral relationship. I will always be grateful for his selfless service, and Barbara joins me in sending our condolences to the entire Ney family.”
Mr. Ney is survived by his wife, Patricia Murray Wood. He had three children from a previous marriage, Nicholas Hayes Ney of California, Hilary St. Clair Ney of New York City and Michelle Kilduff of Vermont; as well as five grandchildren, Kristina, Andrew, Kimberly, Conor and Hunter, and two great-grandchildren.