THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 8: The Copywriters

‘Truly original creative work doesn’t tend to win awards.’ – John Hegarty.
He’s right of course, (he is, after all, John Hegarty).

It not only means that great work didn’t get the recognition it deserved back in the day, it means it’s not on the record for people like me to check today.
Because awards annuals are the only reliable place to check who did what when.
I’ve grouped the people in this post because they had far fewer entries in those annuals than Phyllis, Judy, Mary and the others.
Obviously the work below did make it into annuals, but it’s surprising much of it didn’t split juries.
Particularly back in the sixties.

Take a look at the campaign for Jamaica, the logo takes up nearly half the page, aren’t logos on good ads supposed to be small?
Or the VW’s Karmann Ghia ad; will demonstrating its lack of power attract buyers?
And what about Chemstrand’s ‘We stole our designs’  campaign, is that the most positive thing we can say to the public?
(The answers are; no, yes and yes, in case you were wondering.)
If this is the work that didn’t split the juries, I’d love to have seen their work that did.

Marcia Bell.

Janet Boden.

Sue Brock.

Liz Buttke.
“Before I found my way into the hallowed halls at 11 West 42nd St., I worked with Ken Duskin at a small agency named Mervin & Jesse Levine.
Although we weren’t officially an AD/copywriter team à la the DDB method, our offices were right next to each other, with a partition between us that didn’t reach all the way to the windows.
So we had an open space wide enough to allow for close cooperation on our ads.
Several months after Ken left to join DDB, I got a call from him telling me about an opening in copy. Half elated and half terrified at the prospect of working with such advertising geniuses, I dropped my book off with Mary Wells’ secretary, then went straight home with my fears, only to find a message that Mary wanted to see me.
I think my interview was the following day.
I don’t remember much about it except for the following negotiation. Mary asked how much money I wanted. I said “Well, I’m making thirteen, so I’d like twelve, but I’ll take eleven.” That’s how much I wanted to work at DDB.
I didn’t even mention that the thirteen I was making was for a three-day week. Which it was. But I never regretted the salary cut because working at DDB wasn’t about money—as I think all of us would agree.
Working at DDB wasn’t even about working. It was about fulfilling our creative needs and doing better advertising than we ever could or did before. It was also about being among the nicest bunch of people to be found anywhere.
I loved the camaraderie that existed at DDB. Art directors and writers running to show their latest ad to the team next door or down the hall. No cut-throat politics or sour grapes or competitiveness ever got in the way of appreciating the work of our fellow DDBers.
We liked one another. We respected each other’s talent and abilities. We didn’t take criticism as criticism per se, but as a chance to learn and improve our work.
Art directors didn’t growl when writers came up with a better graphic idea than theirs.
Writers didn’t throw a fit when ADs came up with a better headline than theirs.
Working in teams the way Bill Bernbach envisioned it defined teamwork at its best.
Other agencies could copy the system, but other agencies didn’t have Bill Bernbach at the top, inspiring and nurturing all the people under him, who inspired the people under them, and they the people below them, all the way down to the newest and greenest DDB creative.
Only at DDB did it all come together so perfectly that it still affects us today.
How else could a June 1 reunion still be going on in the middle of August—and I suspect, will continue to go on from now on.”

Susan Conlon.

Jacqeline End.
“It all comes back to you. Just like that. It’s not that I don’t laugh today. I do. But the laughing I did at Doyle Dane in the ‘60s was different. I was part of a group. A member in good standing of a talented, smarter-than-smart, smart-ass group.
Although it wasn’t so easy to get in.
I remember Marvin Honig constantly challenging me with his one-liners. It was like watching a prize fight. Marvin was Ali. I was Frazier. He’d jab a good sarcastic one and I’d take it on the chin or bob and weave with some pretty lame replies.
Then one day I decided I’d had enough. I mean, I was from Brooklyn for God’s sake. And Sicilian. Are you kidding me? So the next time I saw Marvin, I put on the gloves and landed a good one. He looked surprised for a beat, then started to laugh.
And from then on we pelted each other with one-liners every chance we got. I was in.
I can’t really remember now what it was that made us laugh so much. (Humor being fleeting and all that.)
But I do remember that for four years at Doyle Dane Bernbach, I laughed. The way I’m laughing now writing back and forth about the reunion. Even on email, it all comes back to you.”

Frances Caldwell.

Wendy Hewer.

Diane Hyatt.

Camille Larghi.

Ellen Peerless.

Cynthia Shalen.

Gail Shanik.

Carol Sherman.

Freda Sklar.
“I was a junior writer working on trade ads for the Olin Chemical Company.
My supervisor Stan Lee loved and approved the campaign that me and my Art Director (sorry.. can’t remember the name) came up with for Olin’s plant and soil products.
The ads were familiar quotations from the Bible about the land, with black and white photos of farmland, trees, seedlings growing, etc. The AD had to get his supervisor’s approval, as well. That would be Helmut Krone.
We got all our bravado up as we entered his office … we had heard all the stories … introduced ourselves and explained the concept.
We handed him our ad, which was for Olin’s new product, a fertilizer.
“THIS IS SHIT,” Helmut raged. “REALLY SHIT”. I grinned. “Yes it is”.
But my grin soon turned to panic when I realized that Helmut did not connect ‘shit’ with fertilizer.
He told us to get out and come back with another visual.
We left quickly, not believing that the great Helmut Krone didn’t find this even a little funny.”

“I was a junior writer at DDB and my first ad for Barton’s Candy “How To Be A Good Lover” had caused a great stir in the press, with disc jockeys, who read it on Valentine’s Day, and from people I didn’t yet know at DDB.
My Dad, who was a great letter writer, had read in the ad column of the NYTimes that the Parker Pen Company was looking for an advertising agency. Without telling me, he wrote to Parker, sending them a copy of my ad and telling them this was the kind of advertising they could expect from Doyle Dane Bernbach and why they should be their new agency.
One afternoon, looking into the hall from the office, I saw Bill Bernbach. I thought he was coming to chat with Ron Rosenfeld whose office was next to mine. But no, he came in and walked over to where I was sitting. Rapid heartbeats on my part.
Mr. Bernbach thanked me for the agency being asked to present to the Parker Pen Company.
He thought DDB had a good chance of winning the account.
When he saw that I was looked totally confused, he said very gently that “Oh, I thought you knew that your father sent them a copy of your ad …” “Oh, my God, he didn’t” is all I could say. “But I think we may have the account, ” Bill Bernbach said very gently, smiling at my embarrassment. He thanked me again and left.
From that time on he always had a very warm smile and nod for me whenever we passed each other. I had many encounters with him … a lot of them killing ads I was defending. He was always gracious!”

Jane Talcott.
“I began as secretary to Dave Reider, Bob Levenson, Dan Bingham, Jack Dillon, Marcia Bell, Evan Stark and Peter
Dave Reider and Bill Taubin had just landed a Teflon Account. Dave asked Jackie End to cook fried eggs
over the weekend without butter so she could learn about the account.
She came in all enthusiastic on Monday
morning and gave me a long complicated and detailed message about her first encounter with Teflon. I dutifully listened and wrote this message for Dave “Dave, Jackie End did it twice this weekend. With a spatula. It was a success.”

Dave came back from his meeting, read the message and told me to “Call Miss End and tell her I am a copywriter, not a priest.”

Judy Teller.

Fran Wexler.

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