WHAT I LIKED before I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO LIKE – Dan Watts.

As a kid I loved anything that was ‘wrong’. Funny stuff. Dark stuff. Magical stuff. The stuff I wasn’t allowed to watch. Stuff that did something fuzzy to your brain. I’d pick the London Dungeon for a family day out. I’d ask for Viz over the Beano. Anything that was naughty and went against the grain. Anything that stuck in your head for all the wrong reasons. It’s of no surprise then that nearly all the ads I liked beforeRead more

WHAT I LIKED before I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO LIKE – Lynsey Atkin.

“It relies on me finding people who aren’t afraid to be honest and not too worried about looking cool.” This is what Dave said to me when asking if I’d like to gather together some of my favourite adverts from that distant yet golden time before I knew anyone had ‘favourite adverts’. Well Dave, you got me. Honest? Deeply uncool? Two of my top personality traits, seeing as we’re dealing in preferences here. As someone who spent their formative yearsRead more

RORY SUTHERLAND: PART 2.

Finally! Not exactly hot on the heels of Part 1 – it’s been eighteen months. I wonder whether the fresh-faced, pre-pandemic Rory would’ve answered those questions in the same way today? The last eighteen months have probably changed us a bit. Just a reminder, the questions I asked back then were built around the idea of a new agency, as these are, like ‘how would you hire?’, ‘what kind of atmosphere would you want?’ etc. But rather than ask themRead more

WHAT I LIKED before I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO LIKE – George Tannenbaum.

I grew up in an advertising household. My father was a copywriter at a large, mediocre agency called Kenyon & Eckhardt. He lays claim to having written Brylcreme’s US slogan, “A little dab’ll do ya.” Later he rose to Chairman of that agency. Accordingly, even at a very young age, we paid attention to TV commercials. We watched them and often commented on them. My father also did work for Nabisco, now the horribly named “Mondelez.” Way back in blackRead more

WHAT I LIKED before I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO LIKE – Paul Grubb.

Eyup, it were so much better back in the old days. But actually, was it? I’m talking pre-1981 before I joined the business and was ‘taught’ what were good ads and bad ads. Back then it was simpler, for sure; there was nothing like the media bombardment of today, just the three tv channels, of which only one, ITV, ran ads (in the UK). There were a handful of commercial radio stations, a handful of newspapers and magazines and theRead more

PODCAST: Oli Beale.

“Hello Dave, We’ve not met before. I’m an ad creative too. I felt compelled to write and tell you how much I’m enjoying your blog. I’ve learnt loads. (Now I’ve started writing this email I feel a bit silly!) Anyway, keep pumping your stuff from the loft out into the ether. It’s wonderful. Thanks, Oli.” I got that email in 2013. I wondered where this charming young man went to college or was on placement, so I googled him: ‘PartnerRead more

WHAT I LIKED before I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO LIKE – Vikki Ross.

Dave asked me to contribute to another one of his brilliant ideas – a series of posts by people in advertising talking about what ads they liked before they learnt what they were supposed to like. I never learnt what I was supposed to like. I didn’t study advertising at uni – I didn’t even go to uni. And I didn’t go to ad school – I didn’t know it was a thing until I started mentoring at School ofRead more

WHAT I LIKED before I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO LIKE – Mark Denton

A funny thing happened the other day…I saw an advert on the internet and I went out and bought something. Don’t laugh, IT’S TRUE! The advert was for a TRIO bar and after seeing it I urgently needed a toffee/chocolate hit. Of course I couldn’t find a Trio anywhere (do they still make them?) so I had to make do with a Toffee Crisp. They (I bought a multi-pack) were very nice. I can’t remember what their advertising was likeRead more

WHAT I LIKED before I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO LIKE.

I read this psychologist’s theory once; everything we say we say to impress others. Everything. Like that, me starting this blog by quoting some psychologist’s theory in an effort to come across all intelligent. If it’s true, it could explain why asking people to name their favourite ads becomes an exercise in creating a cool, intelligent persona. You’ll can watch this live if you’re on an awards jury. This year there will be a lot of jurors positioning themselves asRead more

HANDS UP WHO’S HEARD OF SI LAM?

LOST AND FOUND. By Alfredo Marcantonio. I first saw the name Si Lam alongside “We’ll never make it big” a Volkswagen poster that appeared in 1967’s New York Art Directors club Annual. It was produced by DDB’s Los Angeles office and I reasoned that Mr Lam would be one of the many talented Californians who boasted Japanese extraction. It was a misapprehension that I fostered for 40 years or more. DDB New York’s legendary Beetle and Bus ads lived onRead more

WASHES WHITER.

In 1990, the U.K. had just four tv channels. Only two aired commercials. In that year the BBC aired this five part series about advertising. They didn’t skimp on time or money and aired it in primetime. I wonder whether this could happen today? True, they were only competing against three other channels. There was no internet back then. No Netflix to compete with. The gaming industry was like an amoeba at this point. There were no mobile phones. BarelyRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB: Addendum

I chanced upon this whilst researching this series. DDB News, 1966 – The Women’s Issue. It’s an odd little thing; one minute it feels progressive, the next..not*. (*Yes, I’m talking to you Legs Page.) But it’s a useful snapshot of the environment the women I’ve written about were working in at the time. Also, DDB would’ve been one of the most progressive agencies.  (See previous posts for details.)  Read more

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 entriesRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 7: Mary Wells

I wasn’t going to include Mary. I’ve already written a post on her and I couldn’t find anything new to add, like an interview from her time at DDB. I thought I’d just post a link to the previous post. But then I thought; the title of this series is The Women Who Built DDB, she deserves more than a link. She may not have had the influence over DDB as Phyllis Robinson, created a campaign as famous as JudyRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 6: Carole Anne Fine

One of the frustrations of putting together these Women Who Built DDB posts is trying to track down their work. The journey starts with scouring old copies of The New York Art Director’s Club Annual and Communication Arts magazines. After that, it’s a desperate flick through the random old books and magazines my wife is forever on at me to get rid of. With a bit of luck I’ll find a bunch of grainy little back and white squares withRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 5: Lore Parker

‘What was the most effective headline I ever wrote? ‘Dear Mrs Robinson’. Without a scrap of work to show, Lore Parker’s letter to Phyllis Robinson landed her a job as copywriter in the best ad agency on the planet. She stayed nearly thirty years. As with the subjects with all of these posts, the work feature is just a fraction of their output. So although I wish I could unearth more of her work, Lore’s talk on what it’s likeRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 4: Rita Selden

After the first post in this series a friend got in touch to say he liked it, but wasn’t that ‘built’ a bit of an exaggeration? No. Look at ‘Bill Bernbach’s Book – The advertising that changed the world of advertising’, written by Bob Levenson, a 30 year veteran, both writer and Creative Director. (When Creative Director meant head of all creatives.) EXHIBIT A: The picture above, it’s from the cover of that book (women involved in all six adsRead more

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 3: Judy Protas

Unusual names are more likely to be remembered. So I knew that the writer of the Levy’s campaign was called Judy Protas. I didn’t know she’d written one of my favourite ads – Ohrbach’s ‘Back to school’. I knew the Crackerjack ads but didn’t know she’d written them. I didn’t know she’d written the Ohrbach’s cat ad (probably the most famous DDB before VW came along). I’d seen the funny Crackerjack commercials on a 100 Greatest ads reel back inRead more