William A. Peck, 68, created familiar advertising slogans

September 02, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

William A. Peck, an advertising agency creative director who wrote many well-known commercial slogans as well as eight unpublished mystery novels, died of a cerebral aneurysm Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Homeland resident was 68.

Born in Grafton, Pa., Mr. Peck was raised in San Antonio, where he began working as program director for an AM radio station, KTSA. In the early 1960s, he moved to Chicago to become program director at WYNR, then the city's sole African-American broadcasting station, and managed it during the civil rights movement of the mid-1960s.

He moved to Baltimore as a radio and TV copywriter for Golnick Group Communications on Eutaw Place and in 1967 helped produce the radio-TV elements of the winning mayoral campaign of Thomas J. D'Alesandro III. Colleagues said he coined the phrase, "The Answer is D'Alesandro."

Among the notable campaigns he helped produce were the "Little Profit Dealer," a nationally syndicated auto sales campaign used locally by Park Circle Chevrolet and Westminster Motors. He wrote the line, "The Little Profit saves you more than anything you ever bargained for."

"He was a very good ad man," said Jeffrey Legum, owner of Park Circle Motor Co. "The Little Profit guy, who wore a turban, worked for us."

Mr. Peck worked briefly at the W.B. Doner & Co. ad agency before forming the Debrosky-Peck Coalition. In 1970, his business became Wilson & Peck, which operated for nearly three decades on Maryland Avenue.

"He was basically a radio writer with a great command of the English language," said William J. Wilson Jr., his business partner for 27 years.

They created an early live-in-Baltimore campaign, "Baltimore Is Alive and Well and Living in Town," and a booklet promoting city neighborhoods for the old In-Town Living Council of the city Department of Housing and Community Development.

He also worked on an early automated teller machine campaign, "Harvey Wallbanker," for the old Columbia Bank and Trust Co. The campaign was later picked up by the old Equitable Trust Co.

He amended the music from the popular song, "Hey, Good Lookin'" for the old Horn & Horn cafeteria chain to "We Gotcha Good Cookin.'"

"He was the master of the English language and was an incredibly creative copywriter, with the ability to handle both broadcast and print," said Charlie Horich, the firm's president. "He had the ability to develop good relationships with employees and clients."

Mr. Peck was the author of two books on local radio-TV copy writing, The Anatomy of Local TV-Radio Copy and Radio Promotion Handbook.

In his spare time, he wrote novels and short stories. He wrote eight mystery novels that featured a shrewd and earthy French detective, Inspector M. Duquesne. A short story, "Recipe for Revenge," appears in the anthology Criminal Appetites, a series of murder mysteries based on food and wine.

"With his trademark Greek fisherman's cap set at eye-level, and meticulously clipped gray beard, Bill was the consummate bon vivant and connoisseur of world travel," said John W. "Jack" Eddinger, a close friend and neighbor. "He collected wines and brandies from around the world, and often said the sweetest sound he ever heard was `the popping of a champagne cork.'"

An animal lover, Mr. Peck rescued stray dogs. He also went on a safari in Kenya - a place he had said he wanted to visit "before all the animals are gone."

He attended the Johns Hopkins University's old evening college, earning a bachelor of arts degree over 14 years. He later earned a master of liberal arts degree from the university. In 1997 he joined the Horich Parks Lebow agency in Hunt Valley.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. next Thursday at the Village of Homeland Club House, 357 Homeland Southway.

He is survived by his wife of 16 years, the former Janis Blotzer; a son, Richard E. Ebben of Phoenix, Ariz.; and a stepson, Brant Louck of New York City.

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