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Subject: Sandy Carlson Tarlow, Ralph Lauren advertising executive

She was 59
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Date Posted: March 26, 2003 2:03:25 EDT

The cause was lung cancer, said her husband, Richard Tarlow. Mrs. Tarlow had been ill for four months. Until the onset of her illness, she remained at the helm of Carlson & Partners, the agency that she and her husband founded in 1987.

For 23 years, Mrs. Tarlow handled the account of Ralph Lauren, one of the most visible and successful American clothing companies during that period. Mr. Lauren's clothes initially defined the look of upper-class young men, with the casual but rarefied aura of the brand abetted by the images conjured up by Mrs. Tarlow and her colleagues. Mrs. Tarlow worked with Mr. Lauren on shaping the marketing and image of his company, often meeting with him two or three times a week to review the direction of the campaigns.

As Mr. Tarlow put it, "Ralph Lauren was the other man in her life."

Mrs. Tarlow's oversight of advertising for Mr. Lauren made her one of the most prominent women in advertising.

Sandy Carlson Tarlow was born in Shrewsbury, Mass. She earned a bachelor's degree at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

After graduation, Sandy Carlson moved to New York City to break into advertising. She found work at an agency called Martin Landey, Arlow. But she soon moved to Hawaii for six months.

Before leaving on her trip, Ms. Carlson met Mr. Tarlow, who was working as an advertising salesman at the agency. He had just returned from living in Spain, and she was working at the time as an assistant art director.

The two were married 25 years ago, at a home that they shared in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

Mr. Tarlow struck out on his own and founded Kurtz & Tarlow, where Mrs. Tarlow worked as a partner and creative director. It was there that she acquired the Ralph Lauren account. She nurtured the account for a decade and eventually came to handle the print and broadcast advertising for the company's clothing, home furniture and fragrance divisions. By the late 1980's, the value of the account was estimated at $10 million.

Mrs. Tarlow continued to handle the account even after the agency was bought by another advertising company. But she and her husband eventually decided to start their own agency, with Ralph Lauren as the main client.

In working on advertising for Ralph Lauren, Mrs. Tarlow often collaborated with Bruce Weber, the prominent photographer who shot many of the images used in Mr. Lauren's ads. Her agency also did advertising for the Neutrogena line of skin care products made by Johnson & Johnson.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Tarlow is survived by her son, Cody, a student at the University of California at Santa Cruz; her younger sister, Jamie Anderson, of Westwood, Mass.; two younger brothers, Storm and Bob Carlson, both in Costa Rica; and her mother, Veronica Carlson, of Shrewsbury.

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