Backer was the brains behind Coca-Cola’s 1971 ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke’ campaign.
And while that’s arguably one of his most famous pieces of work, he was also involved in a heap of brilliant work for Campbell’s Soup, Wendy’s, Hyundai and Avis, reports AdAge.
He was inducted into the AdAge Advertising Hall of Fame in 1995 and named one of the publication’s 100 most important people in advertising in 1999.
Backer became a household name around adland when he was running McCann.
On news of his passing, the creative agency penned a thoughtful tribute on Facebook to its former leader.
“Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Bill Backer, one of the legendary creative directors of the 1960s and 1970s at McCann, who passed away this weekend at the age of 89.
“Bill not only wrote that ;Things go Better with Coke’ but began writing many of the classic 60-second songs that made the Coca-Cola brand so powerful. Bill wrote songs about life situations in which things go better with Coke and worked with many of the leading pop artists of the day to record the songs.
“In 1971, one of those songs, ‘Hilltop,’ shot on a hilltop in Italy, became one of the most famous and beloved TV commercials of all time. The song and the TV spot soared back into pop culture as the closing moments of the hit AMC TV series ‘Mad Men’, with the song saving the career of the fictional antihero Don Draper.”
Backer left McCann in 1979 to found his own agency with Carl Spielvogel, Backer and Spielvogel. The agency was later sold to Saatch & Saatchi, and ended up merging with another ad agency Ted Bates Worldwide.
Tributes have started pouring in on social media.
A toast to the man behind “Tastes Great, Less Filling” + “Miller Time” ?https://t.co/li8vPbA2Zj
— MillerCoors (@MillerCoors) May 16, 2016
— Stuart Elliott (@stuartenyt) May 16, 2016
Bill Backer, ad legend behind “I’d like to buy the world a coke” “Millertime” “Tastes great, less filling,” has died https://t.co/j0OMa2L387
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 16, 2016
“Building brands is about making them human and personal.” Bill Backer #advertising legend
— Michael Gass (@michaelgass) May 16, 2016