William L. Clayton, an E.F. Hutton & Co. executive and board member who oversaw the brokerage’s advertising campaigns, including “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen,” has died. He was 83.
He died on June 7 at his home in the Green Village section of Chatham Township, New Jersey, his son, Christopher Clayton, said yesterday in an interview. He had Parkinson’s disease for several years.
Clayton’s 55-year career on Wall Street included 38 years at E.F. Hutton during its heyday as the second-largest U.S. brokerage. He founded Hutton Capital Management, a unit that managed institutional and high-net-worth client assets, and became, under Chief Executive Officer Robert M. Fomon, the firm’s in-house specialist for advertising and marketing.
“He was a money-management professional, but among other things he took on the advertising piece of the business,” said Christopher Clayton, who is executive vice president for finance at Forest City Ratner Cos., a Brooklyn, New York-based property developer.
That work included guiding E.F. Hutton’s relationship with Benton & Bowles, the advertising agency that produced the famous campaign, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
Clayton recalled in a 1984 interview with Lehigh University’s Alumni Bulletin that he pushed for a new slogan to replace “More than just brokers,” which he considered “terrible.”
In 1986, after the E.F. Hutton name had been tarnished by its guilty plea in a check-overdraft scandal -- and after the firm had taken advertising in-house, ending its work with Benton & Bowles -- Clayton helped conceive a campaign intended to clean up the brand.
“E.F. Hutton -- because it’s my money,” comedian Bill Cosby, dressed in a suit and identifying himself as a Hutton client, said in the television commercials, part of a $20 million advertising campaign.
Advertising Age reported that E.F. Hutton paid Cosby an estimated $3 million for about 10 commercials, print ads and Hutton-sponsored performances, and that Clayton conjured the commercials with Cosby and one of his scriptwriters during a 12-hour work session between shows at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and on a late-night flight to Los Angeles.
“He’s highly credible -- a morale booster” Clayton said of Cosby, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Shearson Lehman Brothers acquired E.F. Hutton in 1988, the first in a series of acquisitions that made Hutton part of the Smith Barney retail brokerage, which itself became Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
Clayton remained with the E.F. Hutton brokerage unit from 1988 until his retirement in 2009, managing a book of accounts, his son said. In his later years, he worked in the firm’s Florham Park, New Jersey, office.
Clayton was a trustee emeritus at his alma mater, Lehigh, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which four of his six children also attended. One of them, Kevin L. Clayton, is a principal at Oaktree Capital Management LP, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, and vice chairman of the school’s board of trustees. The college is home to the Carol and William L. Clayton Scholarship Fund.
William Lawrence Clayton was born on Oct. 27, 1929, in Tenafly, New Jersey. His father, Walter I. Clayton, was a member of the New York Stock Exchange, while his mother, Emily Clayton, was a homemaker.
He attended La Salle Military Academy, in Oakdale, New York, and graduated from Lehigh with a degree in business administration in 1951, the same year he married his wife, the former Carol Farmer. He attended graduate school at New York University.
During the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Air Force.
Clayton, who lived most of his life in Short Hills, New Jersey, joined E.F. Hutton’s first training class in 1954 and was made an account executive, according to Chistopher Clayton. He rose to vice president in 1964, was named to the board of directors in 1971 and promoted to senior vice president the following year. He then rose to executive vice president.
In 1976, E.F. Hutton came out with another Clayton brainchild: a two-disk, phonograph record set containing an 80-minute primer on investing and selecting a broker. The recording, titled “Learn a New Language: Money,” sold for $9.95 and was aimed at novices, according to an account in the New York Times. The disks addressed such questions as: What is a stock? What is a bond? What is a mutual fund?
In 1978, as senior vice president and director of advertising, Clayton was focused on women as a growth market for Hutton, according to the Times. “Some of our smartest clients are women,” went a Hutton campaign.
“It’s not a put-down,” Clayton said of the line, according to the newspaper. “About 20 percent of our clients are women, and we expect to increase our efforts by 15 percent this year in both print and TV media to attract more of them.”
Survivors include his wife and six children, Andrew Clayton, Robin Roach, Kathleen Veshosky, Kevin Clayton, Susan Starkman and Christopher Clayton. He also is survived by 13 grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and a sister, Grace Folker of Portland, Maine.