Goodbye Curvin, Thanks Is All I Can Say

It is with great sadness that we let everyone here at SaabsUnited know that our friend and Saab Ad man Curvin O’Rielly lost his battle with cancer on Friday night. For a man that I never met but had the chance to interact online here and through Facebook, it greatly saddens me to have received the news last night through the crew mail.

I am Curvin’s son in law.  I noticed your nice historical posts on Curvin and his ad work with Saab.  I am writing to let you know that the original Saab ad man has passed away here in Saratoga Springs, Friday night.  I can forward you a link to an obit when it is published in the next couple of days.  I found your posts as we searched online for more material for his obit.

Darren, Saratoga Springs, NY

Curvin is the man responsible for the 1979 Saab tagline “the most intelligent car ever built”. Back in November of 2010 Swade did a profile on him where Curvin introduced himself to all of us.

My favorite print ads from his time with Saab ads are these:


If you click the link above to read the profile he did for Swade, you will see that this mans background was so much more than just Saab, heck this man is responsible for the Jello pudding ad campaign with Bill Cosby that ran for 32 years. He has won virtually every award you can in advertising as well.

His simple philosophies from the Swade post are great rules to live by.

As a copywriter, I have a simple philosophy: “Every word weighed before use.”
As a copywriter, creative director and brand strategist, my philosophy is equally simple: “Be on-target strategically but off-center creatively.”

I had noticed that on July 2 he had posted a photo of himself at home and I couldn’t have been happier and then yesterday receiving this news of his passing, what a shock.

I believe I read somewhere that he was a speaker at the 2010 SOC and with the 2012 SOC going on right now, I would ask that everyone think of memories of Curvin while you’re out there enjoying the sights and sounds of Saab this weekend. He was what we want to see in Saab and had a great way of marketing to everyone. As he once said, it’s hard to build a reputation in the car business and very easy to kill it. Curvin, you really knew how to build a reputation and your work and the way you carried yourself spoke to the character you possessed and it is one I will truly miss.

24 thoughts on “Goodbye Curvin, Thanks Is All I Can Say”

  1. I met Curvin at SOC2010. His ads, along with Bob Sinclairs leadership, put Saab back on the map in the US. My favorite ad: “If IBM, Boeing and NASA built a car, would you buy it? Of course you would. They don’t. But Saab does.” A sad day indeed.

  2. You did great work while here in our realm and through it will live forever.
    My favorite quote from him was definitely “Be on-target strategically but off-center creatively.” and it can be seen in so much of the work he did, not just for SAAB but for others as well. A genius has truly left us.
    R.I.P. Curvin

  3. Only had the pleasure of meeting Curvin once but it was a pleasure. Had some great stories. Cancer is a birch. Been there, done that. 🙁

  4. I often let my students watch through some of Curvin’s work when we’re discussing and studying copywriting and advertising, and his work always manages to impress them as much as they’ve always impressed me. Sad to see him leaving the world 🙁

  5. Saw him at the U.S. SOC 2010 on a panel discussion at one of the dinners, presenting a pitch on how Saab (under Spyker ownership) could get back to a hard-hitting ad campaign. Then at SOC 2011, I had the chance to meet him and talk with him briefly as we looked at cars out on display for the People’s Choice and Concourse voting.

    My condolences to his family.

  6. I never met Curvin, but wish him ‘God’s speed’ on his next journey.

    Cancer is such a bitch of a illness……it should be banned by God!!.

  7. I’ve been reading some of his past comments on here and I have to say I already miss his (like Saab) quirkiness. Came across this one and I think I’m going to start using the term too lol.

    I have very strange reading habits. Years ago – in a biology textbook, something else along those lines – I came across a list that gave the nutritional content of milk produced by various mammals. Way, way down at the very bottom of the list was mouse milk.

    Ever since, “mouse milk” has been the default term I use for ads and commercials that, in my opinion, just don’t have much nutritional content. That don’t have the protein necessary to help a brand grow. That very often either avoid the truth or bury it and instead try to draw sustenance for a brand from the fluff value of charm alone.

    Mouse milk doesn’t work. Never has. Never will. It might be seen. It might be noted. Most of the time, it gets a yawning “so what?” because it just isn’t important.

    • Very sad to hear. One of the iconic Saab guys that understood the cars right away. Curvin won’t be forgotten.
      If/when the brand makes a comeback lets try and keep it as far away from the ‘bad stuff’ as we possibly can shall we?

  8. I never met Mr. O’Reilly but I must say that his ads were very impressive and his Saab enthusiasm very obvious. May he rest in peace. My condolences to his family.

  9. I remember those print ads from MANY years ago. Curvin is up there in heaven with Bob Sinclair tearing up the roads in his Saab.

    Rest in peace.

  10. To Curvin, it was a pleasure meeting you several times and talking Saab. I always appreciated your support on my delivery pics on FB from my short stint of selling the brand we loved again. I know you will be finding your own road again driving along side with Uncle Bob….my prayers to your family. RIP.

  11. Any word when and where the services will be? I would like to pay my respects in person…..depending upon location, Saratoga is not too far driving a Saab.

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