Connecticut Ad Agency Pioneer Dies at 101

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William J. Cronin Sr., a dean of Connecticut advertising, died at home March 9 just two months short of his 102nd birthday.

A pioneer of the ad agency business in his state, Cronin founded Cronin and Company Inc., a Glastonbury, CT, shop. The agency opened in 1948 and now is run by his son Bill Cronin and sons-in-law John Riccio and Michael Wheeler.

Cronin's ad career began in the 1920s when he persuaded his employer, Bunce's, a large department store in Middletown, CT, to run promotions. He was quickly promoted from clerk to head of advertising.

Starting his self-named agency in Hartford after World War II, Cronin created campaigns for community banking institutions, particularly savings and loans. These banks financed houses for returning GIs.

In the early years, the agency had clients in the six New England states as well as New York, New Jersey and Chicago.

Among them were Sanford Savings and Loan in Maine; Ocean Beach Park in New London, CT; Home Owners Federal Savings and Loan in Boston; Portsmouth Savings Bank in New Hampshire and Hartford Federal Savings and Loan. In consumer goods, it did work for Dovelettes bathroom tissue.

Clients today include Steinway & Sons, Konica Business Technologies, McDonald's Corp., Bertucci's, Connecticut Lottery, The Phoenix Companies, Northeast Utilities and Domain Home Fashions. Capitalized billings are $65 million.

Cronin was known for transforming small events into community-wide celebrations, with ribbon cuttings and local high school bands in the picture. He visited the agency office daily well into his 90s.

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