Daniel J. Loden, a Baltimore advertising executive whose affection for his native city became the inspiration for the Charm City promotional campaign of the 1970s, died of a heart attack Sunday at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Homeland resident was 86.
Born in a Gilmor Street rowhouse and raised in the Ten Hills neighborhood, Mr. Loden was named for his paternal grandfather, a colorful Democratic political figure during the early decades of the last century.
Mr. Loden was a 1935 graduate of Loyola High School and earned his bachelor's degree from Loyola College in 1939. During World War II, he served with the Army Signal Corps in China, Burma and India, attaining the rank of major.
Returning to Baltimore in 1946, Mr. Loden began his career as an advertising copywriter with VanSant Dugdale & Co. Inc. During his nearly four decades with the firm, he was a radio-television director, account executive and client services director.
He was promoted to executive vice president in 1973 and elected chairman in 1976. He retired in 1979.
Mr. Loden's civic pride and his creativity became a valuable asset in 1974 when the Baltimore Promotion Council was searching for ways to lure tourists.
"No one was saying how great Baltimore was in those days. He loved the town and everything about it, yet felt that its business leaders didn't appreciate it," said Christopher C. Hartman, a public relations executive and former director of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.
"He drew comparisons with other cities and found that Baltimore was anything but dull. The Charm City U.S.A. campaign was the first original effort to do anything about promoting Baltimore. He believed in the city and knew how to sell it," Mr. Hartman said.
At a lunch at the Lord Baltimore Hotel, Mr. Loden presented the campaign idea to civic and business leaders.
"He excited them, and I recall them interrupting him with applause. He got them fired up to go out and sell the city," Mr. Hartman said. "He knew the campaign would produce jobs with higher incomes and help families become more stable."
"This was a very successful campaign, and it got us a lot of excellent PR," said Maryland Comptroller and former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who was then the city's mayor. "He was a nice guy who worked for free and did this out of the kindness of his heart."
The print campaign that Mr. Loden developed featured a photo montage including Blaze Starr on The Block, the Constellation, Washington Monument, new downtown buildings and the city's famed white marble steps. The national campaign was run in newspapers in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit.
"The cynical may laugh, but it's a city of charms, and we have to believe in that," Mr. Loden told The Sun at the time.
Accompanying advertising copy stressed a timelessness about Baltimore, its history and friendly citizens.
"While wrecking balls of other cities have been busy leveling tradition in the name of progress, Baltimore has been meticulously re-routing progress around its history in the name of tradition. Therein lies the charm," said the advertisement.
"We have to remember that those were the days before the Tall Ships and the Inner Harbor. What we did have, and Dan understood that, were colorful city neighborhoods. His idea was that they were the charms that other cities didn't have. He's the guy who invented Charm City," said J. Stanley Heuisler, a former editor of Baltimore magazine who had worked at VanSant.
"Dan was a classic advertising man in every sense of the word. He could win accounts by the force of the way he talked. He could get up in the middle of a meeting and give one stemwinder of a speech," Mr. Heuisler said.
Some of Mr. Loden's board memberships included the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Children's Hospital and the Loyola/Notre Dame college library. He was a former president of the Independent College Fund of Maryland and had served on the executive committee of the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Loden, who frequently wrote letters to The Sun, was active in tax reform and a founder of the Baltimore Homeowners Coalition. The organization successfully lobbied for residential tax reductions for Baltimore homeowners in the 1980s.
Mr. Loden was a communicant of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
Mr. Loden is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Elizabeth Blattner; a son, D. John Loden of San Francisco; two daughters, Kathleen M. Barbuti of Baltimore and Elizabeth A. Christian of Abington, Pa.; a half-brother, Albert Wheltle of Ellicott City; a half-sister, Margaret Wheltle of Ellicott City; and three grandchildren.