Before advertising executive Leo-Arthur Kelmenson could ignite the media blitz in 1979 that helped rescue Chrysler Corp. from bankruptcy, he had to persuade the auto company's president to serve as pitchman.
Lee Iacocca's response was as blunt as the ads that followed: He told the adman to drop dead. But the auto executive soon did what Kelmenson had asked.
The straight-shooting ads "raised the question that was on everybody's mind," Kelmenson later said, "Would America be better off without Chrysler?"
The print ad carrying that headline — and others that were equally forthright — helped bring about a government bailout and saved the automaker, said...