Frank J. Savino — designer of the standard advertising unit (SAU) system used by newspapers and former vice president of advertising for The Record in Hackensack, N.J. — died March 27 at Passaic Beth Israel Hospital in Passaic, N.J. He was 71.
Savino retired from The Record in 1988 after 34 years with the daily newspaper. He was the earliest proponent and the mechanical designer of the SAU, a standardized measurement system that is now the national norm for the industry.
He stumped for the SAU for eight years, at a time when newspapers were still wedded to their individual page sizes, formats, and agate-line requirements.
In 1980, during a convention of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, he convinced Katharine Graham, publisher of The Washington Post, that a concerted industry effort to standardize advertising space was essential to make newspaper advertising space neater, less confusing, and easier to buy.
Later that year, while serving as ANPA president, Graham appointed a committee to develop that system. The committee was spearheaded by SAU supporter Walter Mattson, president of The New York Times Co., and Savino, who also was serving as president of the International Association of Newspaper Advertising and Marketing Executives (INAME).
Savino’s SAU system was ultimately endorsed by the Newspaper Advertising Bureau and other organizations. It was officially adopted by 1,300 U.S. newspapers on July 1, 1984.
Savino began his career at The Record in 1954, when he was hired as a classified advertising salesman. He rose through a number of managerial positions, all related to advertising sales and marketing.
In 1970, The Record sent Savino to Harvard Business School’s 14-week Program for Management Development. “I went up there an advertising person. I came back a corporate person,” Savino said in an interview with Editor & Publisher in 1980.
As vice president of advertising in The Record‘s thriving retail community, Savino was dedicated to helping newspapers increase ad sales and market share, while ensuring that editorial content remained independent. “Unless we remain economically viable,” he once said, “we will be forced to give up our editorial integrity, and we will no longer have the respect of our readers and advertisers.”
In addition to his widow, Diane, survivors include two sons, John and Mark, and a daughter, Cheryl.