Jockey Club member and Thoroughbred owner/breeder William M. “Bill” Backer, 89, passed away Friday May 13, at Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton, Virginia, Fauquier Now reported Monday.
Backer was elected as a Member of the Jockey Club in 2004 after a successful career as a leading advertising executive and co-founder of the Backer and Spielvogel agency. An inductee to the Advertising Hall of Fame, he is best known as the creator of Coca-Cola’s “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” campaign [click here to read a May 2015 TDN feature on Backer].
Passionate about horse racing, Backer also served on the Board of Directors of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. As owner of Smitten Farm near The Plains, Virginia, he bred and owned a number of stakes performers, including 2009 GIII Virginia Oaks heroine Blind Date (Not for Love) and seven-time stakes winner Applause (Shecky Greene).
A graduate of Yale, Backer also spent two years in the United States Navy.
Backer is survived by his wife, Ann. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.