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

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

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 2: Paula Green

“It’s not the size of the budget.

 It’s the ferocity of the idea” 
 – Paula GRRRRReen. I’d seen that name underneath some Avis ads.
 But Helmut Krone’s campaigns tend to be referred to as Helmut Krone’s campaigns. (See what I mean?)
 The spotlight rarely makes it past him. So the writers, and often originators, of much of his most famous work get forgotten. Avis is a prime example. I love the art direction of the Avis campaign, but I loveRead more

PODCAST: RICK SITTIG

Many of you won’t recognise that name. You won’t find it attached to tweets his latest ‘hot’ campaign, or next to a picture of his latest lunch; he doesn’t do social media. You won’t find his agency in any new business tables; they only handle three clients at a time, so tend to have long client relationships. You won’t find their scripts in any production companies; they direct them in-house. This is because, when, 23 years ago, the goal forRead more

PODCAST: Gary Goldsmith

Pick up any New York Art Directors Club Annual from the sixties and you can feel the heat coming off the pages. The Writers are using words previously confined to conversation, the Art Directors are trying to find new ways to present the information (‘Creating new pages’ as Helmut Krone put it.) Then, the seventies. A whole different story; the experimentation and energy appear to have dried up. True, there are still lots of good thoughts and lines, but inRead more

FOUND: BERNBACH STUFF.

I’ve no idea where this came from. I’ve had it for at least twenty or so years. Looking at that high-class screw holding it together and thick cell cover, it probably once belonged to a Creative Director. (Me and my friends didn’t have access to that kind of luxury at the time.) If you recognise it, get in touch and I’ll return it. It’s one of the best, most thorough interviews I’ve ever read with Uncle William. So thanks andRead more

SELLING BREAD FROM A BIKE. Mike Everett.

FINALLY, A POST ABOUT AN AD THAT’S CAN BE SEEN TV TODAY. CHAPTER 2 OF MIKE EVERETT’S BOOK ON ADVERTISING. The famous Hovis ‘Bike Ride’ commercial was relatively easy  to write. But, boy, did it take perseverance to find somewhere to film it. In order to understand why the famous Hovis campaign was created it is necessary to return to the dark days of the early seventies. This was a time when Britain was in a mess. Its slow post-warRead more

David Abbott Talks.

Le Corbusier – Dinosaur! Coco Channel – Granny! Paul Rand – Has-been! Irving Penn – Neanderthal! Saul Steinberg – Silly Old Fart! Looks weird doesn’t it? Because we’re not used to seeing those people disrespected, they’re lauded for their part in elevating their profession. Especially by those in the same industry, who study their every idiosyncrasy to inform their own creative output. It enables all of us who follow to start further down the page. It’s why all creative industries striveRead more

DDB’S CHIVAS REGAL CAMPAIGN.

‘It’s REALLY special’. I’ve worked on a lot of luxury brands over the years, and essentially that’s the brief you get. You have to make buying the product feel like gaining access to a very exclusive club. With nothing tangible to say you have to conjure up a personality from thin air. It’s tough, you have to be very creative. ‘It’s not what you say it’s the way you say it’ as Bill Bernbach put it. Doyle Dane Bernbach didRead more

INTERVIEW: Brian Palmer.

Sometimes the people who innovate are forgotten in favour of those who refine their ideas. Whatsisname, the inventor of the mouse that Steve Jobs ‘refined’, is a prime example. Few people today know the name Kingsley Manton & Palmer, let alone that of its creative partner Brian Palmer. Yet Brian wrote the first ad to run on U.K television. He set up the first agency the U.K. after World War Two. His agency was the first to work open plan, first to list on the stock exchange and theRead more

LESTER BOOKBINDER: Advertising.

The third and last post on Lester Bookbinder, unless by some miracle I get to interview him. If I thought finding the pictures was tough that was nothing compared to finding the words. But here’s what I’ve managed to discover. a) He was born in New York City in 1929. b) He trained with the photographer Reuben Samberg. c) He opened his own studio in 1955. d) He moved to London in 1959. e) Long before the New York Police Chief Bill Bratton started talkingRead more

INTERVIEW: Len Sirowitz.

  Hired by Bernbach in the fifties. Ran VW in the sixties. Set up his own shop in the seventies. Now in his eighties. One of the finest Art Directors ever. Len, before we start, I heard a rumour you grew up in the Bronx with Ralph Lauren? Yes. In fact, I am still friendly with his older bother, who I first met pushing Ralphie in a baby carriage. So it’s 1953, why become a huckster? Why do you use such a derogatoryRead more