Education, Thoughts

Hal Riney

One of my first glimpses into the world of advertising was the documentary Art & Copy. If you haven’t seen it, do so. Many of the industry greats in the film left a huge impression on me but none had impressed me more than Hal Riney.

He had a gift. One that a lot of advertising is missing these days. His gift, I’d later realize, was the fruition of Bill Bernbach’s mantra to find the truth about a brand, product or service. Hal took this mantra to another level. He found the emotional hook that would embed the truth into your heart. He was to advertising what John Hughes was to teen films. He told the story of us in order to sell us.

In this Saturn ad, he captures the moment of someone buying a new car and how a car company can be more human about the process to make the difference.

His more famous work won a presidency by helping depict Ronald Reagan as the guy who’ll look out for the everyday American. I used this ad as the inspiration for my Intrax corporate video.


In my obsession with advertising I’ve done all I can to study to past masters and with Hal Riney being an inspiration to me, I’m sad that there isn’t more available on his life, his work and, of course, his legacy.

I hope one day, someone does the research and writes that book. Because I’ll be in line to order one of the first copies. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll find the means to write it. Wouldn’t that be awesome.

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