A four-decade career in advertising came to a tragic end over the weekend.
According to a statement from the NYPD’s Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, police officers responded to a 911 call at approximately 4:45 a.m. on Sunday morning at a New York apartment in the Upper West Side. Upon their arrival, they found the body of 70-year-old Susan Trott, who died of a lacerated neck.
“There are no arrests, and the investigation is ongoing,” the statement continued.
In a Monday press conference, however, the NYPD’s chief of detectives indicated that the investigation has come to focus on a single “person of interest.”
The 911 call came from Eric Boscia, Trott’s partner in the London and New York creative consultancy Code Modern. He told Adweek that the two first met while working as freelancers at New York’s Saatchi & Saatchi in 1999 and that “she had a huge career before that.”
Trott entered the ad industry in the late 1960s and went on to work for nearly every major agency in New York and London, including Saatchi, JWT, Ogilvy, Wunderman and Y&R, according to her resume. She established herself as a creative leader at a time when advertising was overwhelmingly dominated by men, a fact well-documented by films and shows like Mad Men, as well as the present-day industry’s attempts to overcome its own diversity challenges.
“Sue’s father was in advertising. That’s how she started,” said Boscia. According to a report in The New York Times today, her father, Salvatore Lodico, was a senior art director at Y&R.
A McCann spokesperson confirmed that she went on to work in the agency’s New York headquarters as an associate creative director from 1987 to 1991, when her resume states that her clients included Häagen-Dazs, Sony, Coca-Cola and General Motors.
Trott later freelanced, creating campaigns for a wide range of clients before partnering with Boscia at Code Modern; her online portfolio focuses on print, digital and out-of-home work.
Adweek reached out to Trott’s ex-husband, Dave Trott, now a regular columnist for Campaign Brief, who said he had little to share about her career, as he has not spoken to her since their divorce in 1978. She later married and divorced another agency executive.
“She was as sassy as they came, and she had zero tolerance for fools,” wrote former journalist and communications professional Judith Segaloff—who met Trott in 1988 while the latter worked on a campaign for one of her electronics clients—in a LinkedIn post. “It was her way or the highway. She was creative and eccentric, and the last word was always hers.”
Trott went on to help Segaloff promote her own startup PR firm, telling her, “If you don’t believe you can land big accounts, you will always be stuck with the small ones.” Though Code Modern continued to work with various clients, Segaloff—who described herself as “heartbroken” over the tragedy—said that Trott spent much of her spare time in recent years taking care of rescue dogs.
“Sue Trott was larger than life,” she wrote. “An advertising artiste. A caring and generous person who always spoke up for those who couldn’t speak for themselves.”
An NYPD spokesperson referred Adweek to a Monday press conference on neighborhood policing hosted by Commissioner James O’Neill and published on YouTube by the office of Mayor Bill DeBlasio. At the event, Chief of Detectives Dermot F. Shea responded to a reporter’s queries on the Trott case.
“We have a person of interest in that case,” he said, adding that police “believe all the pieces of that puzzle, if you will, were within that building.”
He declined to elaborate beyond stating that the “person of interest” is a woman and did not confirm whether she had been brought in for questioning at the time of the conference.
“If I explain to you the answer, you would understand why I’m not talking,” he said.