Hands Up Who’s Heard Of CHARLIE PICCIRILLO?

Before we had this thing we had books. There were few about advertising. Aside from the awards annuals, there was one by Jerry Della Femina, but it didn’t have any pictures. One by David Ogilvy, but he wasn’t exactly popular at the time. George Lois had a giant square one, which was good. Then there was Bill Bernbach’s Book. Different league. The gold standard. Our bible. Virtually all creatives owned a copy. We didn’t know who’d done ads as thereRead 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

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

THE WOMEN WHO BUILT DDB, 1: Phyllis Robinson

‘We used to have more female than male writers back in the 60s.’ Someone in the HR department of DDB NY told me that, about 5 years ago. Occasionally I’ll remember it and wonder whether it’s true, if it was; why it happened and why it changed. I just looked into it; it’s true. In looking into it, something else dawned on me. DDB in the fifties and sixties were, and still are in some quarters, considered the best, mostRead 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

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 4.

The Advertising Standards Council wouldn’t let that title pass. I guess it was my intent when I cello-taped it to the cover. There are a few old New Yorker ads in there, but the majority are English, from the early seventies. It’s odd collection, looking at it now is a bit like wandering through a car boot sale. There’s the finds that have famous attached, so may be worth something:   1. Illustrator/Artist Glen Baxter’s Gilbey’s Gin ads. 2. Photographer ArtRead 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

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 1.

‘‘Alright fatty, what you after?” How do you react? I’m guessing it would taint your opinion of that particular bookshop, making you less inclined to buy. Nobody likes being disrespected or patronised. What about if that bookshop owner had said “Oh, just to let you know; the new Proust collection is just in”. Sure, you’d look behind you to check that they were talking to you, but you couldn’t help but be pleased that they’d presumed you were intelligent. ItRead more

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 2.

These ads from 1960’s copies of The New Yorker are weird. They’re just so, well, New Yorker ads from the sixties. As evocative of their era as a Blockbuster membership cards and the sound of fax machines were of theirs. That’s not a criticism, some are great. But it’s striking just how different they feel. So different that it got me thinking why and what unifies them? 1: $’s. Look at the ads and you’ll notice that they have allRead more

GREEN BOOKS: New Yorker Ads 3.

Another batch of fertilizer. That’s not a euphemism by the way, just a reminder that ideas grow from ideas, they rarely appear out of the blue. I sometimes hear people say ‘I’m all about tomorrow, I never look back…I’m like an arrow heading towards the future’. It sounds bloody exciting. Then I look at their output, and it often feels so…so, soul-less  gimmicky…nothingy. Like it or not, the truth is that jobs, like most jobs, are less about inventing thanRead 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

INTERVIEW: Sir Alan Parker.

Sir Alan, where did you grow up? I grew up in Islington. Ours were the first council flats built after the war and I moved in aged about three or four. Ironically, the flats overlooked the street where my Dad was born and brought up. (My Grandad was the local barber and the family were evacuated in the war when a bomb hit St Mary’s Church close to their shop. He was also the local bookie—illegal then—and so they movedRead more