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Stuart Rankin

Advertising executive Stuart Rankin was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on November 24, 1936. After attending grade school there, his family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, when he was eleven years old. Graduating from high school in 1956, Rankin went on to attend the Ohio State University, earning a B.S. in education in 1961.

Rankin began his career in advertising in 1963, working with Johnson Publishing. In 1965, he moved to Chicago advertising giant Leo Burnett, working with clients such as Procter & Gamble and Philip Morris. He was also part of a team that provided marketing seminars to M.B.A. students at Big Ten universities. Leaving Leo Burnett in 1971, Rankin joined Jesse Owens & Associates as a senior consultant and served as vice president. He remained there for ten years, working with Mercedes Benz and Walt Disney Productions, among others. Rankin became the advertising manager for the New York Times Company in 1981, and in 1987 he left to form Equinox Advertising. During his nine years there, he serviced such clients as Anheuser-Busch, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Ameritech.

Since retiring in 1996, Rankin has served as an advertising and marketing consultant to a number of organizations. He is married to Marlene Owens Rankin, the daughter of track star Jesse Owens, and has served as a special consultant to the Jesse Owens Foundation. Active as a teacher, as well, Rankin has taught courses at Northwestern University and in the Chicago Public Schools. Rankin is also active with the alumni advisory board of his alma mater, Ohio State, serving on both the advisory council to the president and the communications advisory committee to the president. Rankin and his wife have been married for more than forty years. They have one son.

Accession Number

A2003.252

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/9/2003

Last Name

Rankin

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Hoffman Elementary School

Withrow High School

The Ohio State University

First Name

Stuart

Birth City, State, Country

Springfield

HM ID

RAN03

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nassau, Bahamas, Phoenix, Arizona

Favorite Quote

It Is Very Interesting, But It Is Really Not Important.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/24/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Advertising manager Stuart Rankin (1936 - ) founded the Equinox advertising firm, that works with many global clients. Previously, he worked in advertising for Leo Burnett, Jesse Owens & Associates, and the New York Times Company.

Employment

Johnson Publishing Company

Leo Burnett Company, Inc.

Jesse Owens & Associates

New York Times

Equinox Advertising

Northwestern University

Chicago Public Schools

Jesse Owens Foundation

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Stuart Rankin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Stuart Rankin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Stuart Rankin talks about his maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Stuart Rankin describes moving from Ahmerst, Massachusetts to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1947

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Stuart Rankin talks about his paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Stuart Rankin recalls his great-uncle, a sharpshooter who traveled with Annie Oakley

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Stuart Rankin remembers being a subject in Kenneth and Mamie Clark's Doll Test when he was in third grade

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Stuart Rankin describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Amherst, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Stuart Rankin explains how his mother met his stepfather Baron Jones

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Stuart Rankin talks about stealing 7-Up from a factory in Cincinnati, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Stuart Rankin talks about stealing 7-Up from a factory in Cincinnati, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Stuart Rankin talks about his exposure to music as a child and his childhood best friends

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Stuart Rankin talks about the reputation of the Pettijohn family in the community of Amherst, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Stuart Rankin talks about the reputation of the Pettijohn family in the community of Amherst, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Stuart Rankin describes his experience in elementary school in Amherst, Massachusetts and Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Stuart Rankin describes the activities he was involved in and his transformation as a student at Withrow High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Stuart Rankin describes the activities he was involved in and his transformation as a student at Withrow High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Stuart Rankin talks about the football players at The Ohio State University and the football coach Woody Hayes

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Stuart Rankin describes his best and worst experiences with professors at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Stuart Rankin recalls living off-campus while a student at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Stuart Rankin describes how he met his wife, HistoryMaker Marlene Owens Rankin

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Stuart Rankin talks about his father-in-law, Olympian Jesse Owens

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Stuart Rankin recalls his wife, HistoryMaker Marlene Owens Rankin, being crowned the first black homecoming queen at The Ohio State University, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Stuart Rankin recalls his wife, HistoryMaker Marlene Owens Rankin, being crowned the first black homecoming queen at The Ohio State University, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Stuart Rankin talks about his time in the U.S. Army Reserves after graduating in 1961 from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Stuart Rankin talks about teaching at Nathan Davis Elementary School and Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Stuart Rankin talks about developing an African American history curriculum with HistoryMaker Timuel Black at Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Stuart Rankin describes interviewing with and being hired by Johnson Publishing

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Stuart Rankin explains how HistoryMaker John H. Johnson secured Zenith to advertise in Johnson publications like Ebony and Jet magazines

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Stuart Rankin talks about the pioneers in designing advertisements featuring African Americans and targeted to the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Stuart Rankin recalls his first experience traveling on business for Johnson Publishing Company

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Stuart Rankin talks about his tenure at Leo Burnett Worldwide, Inc. from 1966 to 1971, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Stuart Rankin talks about his tenure at Leo Burnett Worldwide, Inc. from 1966 to 1971, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Stuart Rankin talks about talks about discrimination against African Americans, Jewish people and women at Leo Burnett Worldwide, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Stuart Rankin explains why he left Leo Burnett Worldwide, Inc. to start Jesse Owens & Associates

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Stuart Rankin talks about working for the New York Times' magazine division advertising department

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Stuart Rankin talks about the inception of his advertising agency Equinox Advertising

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Stuart Rankin describes the creative strategy of his advertising agency, Equinox Advertising

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Stuart Rankin talks about Equinox Advertising's accomplishments and the challenges of working with larger white agencies

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Stuart Rankin talks about the decline of African American-owned advertising agencies

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Stuart Rankin talks about the decline of Equinox Advertising and explains why he left the company

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Stuart Rankin describes the changes in the fee structure between advertising agencies and their clients

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Stuart Rankin explains the work he has done since his retirement in 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Stuart Rankin reflects upon the success of Equinox Advertising

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Stuart Rankin describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Stuart Rankin reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Stuart Rankin considers what he would have done differently in his life

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Stuart Rankin describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Stuart Rankin recalls his first experience traveling on business for Johnson Publishing Company
Stuart Rankin talks about the inception of his advertising agency Equinox Advertising
Transcript
Another funny story about Ebony. I had been there about two months in 1963, and Mr. Johnson [HM John H. Johnson] said he was gonna allow us to travel throughout the Midwest and throughout the country to wherever our clients were. And we had clients from Fond du lac, Wisconsin to New Orleans [Louisiana] and so forth. But my client list was mainly St. Louis [Missouri], Minneapolis [Minnesota], Detroit [Michigan], a lot of small towns in Wisconsin and Michigan, not too many in Illinois, and then of course in Chicago [Illinois]. He said, "Well we're gonna allow you guys to travel for the first time in, you know, quite a while. Mr. Lincoln [Hudson] used to go travel now and then, but now we're gonna let all of you. But I don't want you to go out there and get lost going to the goddamn airport." He says, "I want you to make sure you know where you're going and get your arrangements made in time and blah, blah, blah." And we all laughed, you know. Excited about being able to do this. So lo and behold about three weeks later my first trip was to St. Louis to go to Anheuser-Busch, who later became a client of mine when I owned an advertising agency. But at this time I didn't know anything about Anheuser-Busch, and I didn't know--I'd never been to St. Louis, obviously, and I'd only been on a plane maybe four times, and this was 1963. So I'm driving to the airport, and O'Hare [International Airport, Chicago, Illinois] was not--it was a new, relatively new airport. And I'm going out the Kennedy [John F. Kennedy Expressway, Chicago, Illinois] and you know if you don't stay in the right-hand lane to get to O'Hare, you're on your way to Rockford [Illinois] and the toll booth, you know and Milwaukee [Wisconsin] and what have you. Well lo and behold, I missed the turn and I end up at the toll booth. I can't turn around, I gotta go through it. I get off at the first exit I can get off of. I'm in--now I'm in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I don't know where in the hell I am. And I'm panic stricken 'cause I'm about to lose--miss my plane. I literally have gotten lost on the--going to the airport; just what Mr. Johnson didn't want us to do. I called my secretary. Her name was Rose [ph.]. She says, "You did what? You're where? In Barrington [Illinois]? What are you doing in Barrington? You're supposed to be in St. Louis." I said, "I'm lost." She said, "Heck." She said, "Just find your way home, and I'll tell Mr. [LeRoy] Jeffries you called and checked in, and then we'll set the trip up for next week." So she took care of it, my secretary took care of it. So I went home; I was so embarrassed. And of course I was afraid I was gonna lose my job, of course I didn't tell anybody except my wife [HM Marlene Owens Rankin]. But that was my first experience in traveling to take, you know, to do business on behalf of Johnson Publishing Company.$--I ran into Bernie [Washington]. Bernie and his creative partner, Bernie was a copywriter. And his creative partner was an art director named Bill Daniel. And they worked for Needham, Harper & Steers [later, Omnicom Group], which as in the same building that the New York Times Magazine division was in. And I ran into Bernie all the time and he was always talking about starting an agency to address the African American, i.e., black market, in a different way. More from a creative perspective than from social perspective. And I'll explain that in a little bit. But anyhow Bernie kept after me, kept after me and I had a--another friend who just died recently, Seroy Jackson [ph.]. Seroy Jackson was an operator in the advertising marketing business for years. He had been a rep [representative] for--he was one of the first blacks who repped [represented] television stations and he worked for CBS [Columbia Broadcasting System] or one of the big networks. And he had a lot of contacts. Seroy was just--he was a wheeler/dealer. And he helped [HM Thomas J.] Tom Burrell to get some business in, in return his daughter had gotten a job with Tom in the public relations department. And I was saying, "Dag, I wish you had told me 'cause, you know, I'm thinking about starting an agency with a couple of guys." And he said, "Well I can still help you, you know. Just you know, get it together and come back and, and we'll talk." He used to hang out at a place called Highs of Canada [ph.], which was a good restaurant here in Chicago [Illinois]. Seroy went to all the best restaurants in Chicago from the Pump Room to, you know, Cape Cod room, all of 'em. But anyway I went to--I called Bernie and I said, Let's sit down and talk and let's put this thing together. So we put together the agency, but we were still working, you know for somebody else. I'm, I'm working for the New York Times, he's working for Needham. And we needed a pseudonym, so I came up with the name Equinox, which meant new beginning. And for almost a year, we operated out of the mezzanine of at that time the Radisson Hotel. It's now the Hotel Intercontinental. There was a public phone there and we spent our lunches and after work and even before work, putting together a plan for this agency. And we identified twenty companies that we were gonna go after, all blue chip companies.