Bill Bernbach (DDB) changed the game foreverCategory: History of Advertising
The 1960’s were a time of radical change; America elected its youngest president in 1962 and explored space at the end of the decade. JFK appeared at his inauguration bareheaded thus marking the end of the traditional appearance. In 1963 Martin Luther King presented his infamous, “I Have A Dream” speech. Encompassing these revolutionary events, the rise of the youth voice gave birth to the term “Generation Gap.” Change had taken control of the country, despite the resistance of some.
The Creative Revolution
In New York, in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, there was a wave of young art directors and writers from the Bronx and Brooklyn of all backgrounds, nationalities and religions. Their new breed of advertising had energy, style, wit and youth. The creative revolution found a home in New York at Doyle, Dane, Bernbach, then spread to other NY agencies and beyond, like Leo Burnett in Chicago.
Why The Creative Revolution Has Anti-Semitism To Thank
Many Jews found it difficult to enter the mainstream advertising community, as often clients refused to have them working in their accounts. Jews were only accepted at Jewish agencies; most were centered around NY’s garment district on 7th Avenue, specializing in clients in the west 30’s. In 1949, Bill Bernbach along with eleven of his fellow Jewish staffers from Grey Advertising, opened Doyle Dane Bernbach. It took the famed agency ten years before it began creating the advertising that embodied the creative revolution of the 1960s.
Bernbach did not consider breeding, ethnicity, or race; he only wanted talent. Their first clients at DDB were all Jewish: Levy’s, Orbach’s, El Al and then VW. Bernbach paired the art director and copywriter at his agency, which was a revolutionary idea. Art directors contributed headlines and copywriters began thinking visually, combining to create a superior output. The competition to work on accounts and develop even better ads and campaigns pushed the bar higher and higher.
Bill Bernbach was at the forefront of new trends. Like Ogilvy, Bernbach dealt people from all walks of life, and then taught them all about advertising equally. He was a great teacher, often stopping by creatives’ nooks to review work and discuss how to blend art & copy in new and interesting ways.
Bob Gage was the ad rock of DDB. Helmut Krone, Bert Steinhauser, Phyllis Robinson and Bill Taubin were also big shots in the company. Roy Grace, Rosenfeld, Len Sirowitz, Charlie Moss, Paul Mogalis, Mary Wells, who hired Charlie Moss when she formed Wells, Rich, Greene. (Bill Bernbach’s son is still in the business. Account guy) DDB accounts were Orbach’s, Polaroid, VW, Avis, Levy bakery and El Al airlines.
Bernbach was the opposite of Rosser Reeves; Bernback thought people were bored by repetition and would respond to the new. He also thought that Reeves’ style only restated the selling proposition, which did not exceed beyond the part of the job. Bernback believed that advertising was the art of persuasion, not a science.
Leo Burnett learned about the “power of truth simply told” at the knee of his mentor, Theodore MacManus. At age 44, Burnett started his own agency, often putting in over 100 work hours per week.
Though he didn’t look the part, as he was short, bald, bespectacled and wore crumpled suits, he revered creatives. He disliked the use of contests, premiums, sex, tricks and cleverness and championed the product itself. His philosophy was to use good artwork, provide real information and often use humor. This was the Chicago school of advertising: simplicity, clarity, people-talk, in other words: straightforward and warm.
At this time, trade characters were entering society at full force. Leo Burnett in the 1950’s created the Green Giant, Tony The Tiger, Pillsbury Dough Boy, Charlie the Tuna, and, most famously, the Marlboro Man, which totally repositioned the brand.
In the Green Giant’s first TV commercial, the medium was black and white, with high contrasts and poor lighting, The Giant was shown walking through the village, scarring the viewers due to the resemblance to a spawn of Godzilla, rampaging the town with his signature, “HO-HO-HOs.” From then on, the Giant has been shown standing still in the farm patch and benevolently looks after the town.
Ogilvy brought a touch of British class to New York. He had a varied background that gave him an interesting perspective for advertising. Before he started an agency, Ogilvy sold vacuums door-to-door, was an assistant chef in a gourmet restaurant, and worked on an Amish farm.
Ogilvy shuttled between the “image” school of MacManus and Rubicam and the “claim” school of Lasker and Hopkins. Averred that Reeves was the direct successor the Claude Hopkins.
In 1951, the first Man in the Hathaway Shirts ads appeared in The New Yorker. The demand was so great, the factory could not match its supply. Customers bought the image; a direct attack on the claim school’s assertion that image could not move advertising. The company also did notable work for Rolls Royce and Schweppes.
Ogilvy worked long hours and seven days a week, often writing at home to keep up with demand. He was great at businessman with prominent skills in client contact and client meetings, but Ogilvy was also a lesser-known writer. He was know to slave over a project, incorporating it into every day living: listening to music, drinking, in the bathroom, taking walks, bird watching, etc. He looked for motivated people with liberal arts backgrounds, not advertising, to join his team. From there Ogilvy was free to could then “mold” the young cub the “Ogilvy Way.”
Ogilvy developed a firm set of rules, many of which greatly contradict the reality of advertising today:
➢ Include the brand name in the headline,
➢ Do not try to be clever or humorous
➢ Avoid analogies and superlatives
➢ Write sentences containing less than twelve words
➢ Make at least fourteen references to people per one hundred words
➢ Use photographs instead of illustration
➢ Only basic type face
George Lois: 1960s and on
Lois was born and raised in the then middle-class Irish, Kingsbridge section of the upper Bronx, between the Broadway IRT el and St. John’s Catholic Church. His father was a florist, and Lois was greatly influenced by this fact. Throughout his life, Lois claims he would travel anywhere from Ebbets Field, where Jackie Robinson was breaking the color barrier, to the art museums of NYC. Fiorello LaGuardia was the mayor of New York at the time; FDR and the Marx Brothers were major influences. The teacher noticed his work at the public school, gave him a dime for the subway and sent him to apply to the High School of Music and Art in NYC. Upon his graduations he went on to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, however, dropped out after he was hired by a designer, Reba Sochies, to work in her studio.
Lois was influenced by Bauhaus of Germany, and the de Stijl of Mondrian in Holland. Three immigrant art directors also had large influences, including: the Russian-Turk, Dr. Agha, Alexey Brodovitc and A.M. Cassandre. It seemed practically every designer in the world aspire to create work like this fantastic trio.
Lois was hired by Bill Golden at CBS, a designer’s utopia. In 1957, a large, conventional advertising agency called, Lennen & Newell, hired him to their team. He showed his distaste by overturning a desk. At 26, Lois went to work under Herb Lubalin at Sudler & Hennessey, but the company was pharmaceutical related and Lois was looking to work with consumers.
Bob Gage at DDB decided to take Lois on and in his first year, Lois won three gold medals for VW, Chemstrand and Goodman’s Matzos from the NY Art Directors Club. At 28, he left DDB to co-found Papert, Koenig, Lois, and led its growth explosion. Artistically, Lois is known for his brash, loud style.
Lois’ best work includes several Esquire magazines covers, which carried emotional truths and did not focus on and illustrate a one, single article inside.
Lois became known as a tight-fisted egomaniac who did weak, knee-jerk work and stifled others’ output. Rumors from the creative’s he hired for his company solidify this face. In the end, Lois was forced to liquidate his agency due to debts, an unfortunate ending to such a career.
The legend is that Lois took part in the creation of The One Club for Art & Copy, a creative guild. Occasionally, Lois would act as a judge to select the best ads of the year at the Art Director’s Club. He was known to badger all the other judges to select the ads he thought were award-worthy. Rumors say, The One Club was created in order to facilitate an objective awards show and to get away from Lois.
Well-Known Ad Campaigns
The advertising crew for Clairol dared people to wonder, “Does she or doesn’t she?” That one phrase basically invented the home hair color market with Clairol and its product at the forefront. Before these ads, it was deemed “improper” for a woman to be seen at a salon dying her hair. Clairol made it possible for a woman do it in the privacy of her own home without anybody knowing. The headline’s double entendre played off the mystery of using the product and implied a sense of attractive naughtiness.
Other great campaigns were for Talon zippers, and Noxema, which followed the same sense of “attractive naughtiness” and encouraged men to “Take It All Off”.
The DDB agency can be deemed responsible for inspiring a host of start-up agencies and existing agencies that came to adopt and emulated DDB’s style. Over one hundres ad agencies opened in 1969 alone.
Here are some of the more famous:
Wells, Rich, Greene: 1960s – 1980s
Mary Wells wrote copy at DDB, was in management at Interpublic; Jack Tinker, an owner of another prominent agency, allotted her $60,000 in 1963 for the start-up of her business. Wels left after being denied the presidency to form Wells, Rich, and Greene.
Half of Wells’ payroll was paid to the creative department, which was two times as much as most other agencies. Set up in the Bernbach tradition, Wells expected a lot from her employees. However, unlike Bernbach, Wells was not interested in implementing a training program and did now have an interest in teaching the craft.
Wells ran a tight business that incorporated a low-employee-to-profit ratio. She made the most money from the creative revolution, creating a long string of memorable campaigns in the 1960s, including, but not limited to Braniff, Alka-Seltzer, Benson & Hedges and American Motors.
Howard Zieff directed many of these commercials. From there, he went to Hollywood and enjoyed a long career as a feature film director, for films such as Private Benjamin.
Scali, McCabe, Sloves: 1960s – 80s
The co-owner of Scali, McCabe, Sloves, Ed McCabe, never graduated high school. Originally, McCabe was hired for a mail room job, but soon began creating fantastic advertisements for companies such as Horn and Hardart, Volvo, and Purdue and more. McCabe’s infamous ad for Perdue read, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” playing on the ways of society at the time.
Ally & Gargano: 1960-90’s
In 1962, Carl Ally left PKL and instead ran <independent?> ads that portrayed Hertz’s place as the number one rental car company, compared with the second, Avis. These segments broke an ad taboo: the leader was recognizing that there were rivals.
In reference, Pepsi Cola Co. constantly created ads that attack Coca-Cola Co., but Coca-Cola will rarely-to-never acknowledge Pepsi’s existence. Instead, Coca-Cola states, “We hear rumors that some other, lesser companies, may be making an inferior sugar water, but we can’t confirm that.”