• March 28, 2009 /  Advertising

    Over the years, renown advertising people such as David Oglivy, Howard Gossage, Fairfax Cone, Bill Bernbach and Jerry Della Famina have written wonderfully informative and sometimes funny books about award-winning advertising campaigns, great marketing strategies, even books on how to create the ideas themselves.

    But for all the great campaigns, strategies and ideas, what really made advertising come to life, made it work and made the public buy the products were the people in the trenches who created it: the copywriters, art directors, producers, directors and yes, occasionally, even the account person.

    I never looked at it as a job because every day I spent in the business was fun and so were the people I worked with and met over the years. In fact, I could never fathom the idea that we got paid for what we did.

    So I put together some stories about these people, the fun and crazy things they did, the personalities, eccentricities, just plain weirdness and yes, massive egos, which fostered an atmosphere of creativity and a feeding frenzy of ideas that in the end translated into some great advertising.

    Since the time I was active in the business into the late 1990s, it has changed a lot. Maybe people started to take it too seriously. After retiring, advertising icon Hal Riney said in a 2007 Adweek interview that advertising in general had lost its sense of fun, originality and the human element. Jacque Smith, one of my art director partners, summed it up nicely: “What we do for a living, ain’t going to cure cancer.”

    If I misspell a name or two, forgive me. Some of these stories go back a lot of years. My intention is not to slight or put anyone in a negative light. I’m simply trying to relate incidents and stories as I remember them.

    And finally, I would like to say a word about this blog’s URL. My good friend and fellow copywriter Don Hadley, who passed on in 2007, once had business cards printed that simply read: “Mr. Don, Copy Stylist.” So I thought I would use “copystylist.com” as a tribute to Don because I told him a lot of these stories over the years and I know he would have enjoyed reading them.

    Posted by admin @ 6:01 pm

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9 Comments to It Ain’t Going to Cure Cancer

  • Joel – What a great idea — can’t wait to read these, as I am sure I was an observer to at least some of the events you’ll relate so it will be a good memory check. I agree wholeheartedly, both that things have changed and that the really great work that moved brands came from that environment that allowed originality and creativity to flow. It was lopsided, dysfunctional and resistant to programming and more fun and rewarding than anything I’ve participated in lately. Look forward to your recollections.

  • Joel-If Veronica’s posting, all’s right with the blog world, and the comment section must be fixed. I look forward to reading your stories, and any other observations you might make, as long as I don’t have to do anything interesting, like copy url’s into bracket widgets or program defaults into Java plug-in.
    I’m completely computer illiterate and, no, a computer course is not on my agenda. Hope to hear very soonest.

  • can’t wait for the Dan Mountain Liar’s Dice lunches at Reno’s. And the afternoon naps that followed

  • Joel,
    As you know, I was never on your side of “the business”, but having been married to one of “you” guys, and having been on the other side of the camera, I certainly know many of the people, about whom you speak, and will look forward to the recounting of some of your great stories.

  • Joel,
    Bravo! We need to write. Please try to include a few tales of our late great friend, Rich. “The Rich at Enrico’s Tales.” would be fun. The Italian phrase that you taught him I still use, but I refuse to reveal it until you do! Did I press the right key???
    Love to Brenda and San Fransisco…Rudy Paige

  • Joel,
    Although I’m not remotely part of the advertising business and “your world”, I enjoyed the story! I love good storytelling. Look forward to the next edition!


  • This is not an advertising story, it’s a movie business story. I know Joel because we share the same hobby.

    I was working on a movie called “The Golden Child” starring Eddie Murphy. We had a meeting set-up with the producer of the movie who was going to fly to Marin from his studio in L.A. and then limo out to our shop.We had set up the production meeting for 10am.

    Well, the producer didn’t show for a long time. This was unusual, he was an important Hollywood producer and had been around for years. He finally showed up about an hour late. He was an older gentleman and walked with a cane.

    He sat down and said, “I’m going to tell you why I was late. The studio is making a home in Beverly Hills available for our star, Eddie Murphy. Naturally, Eddie wants the best, which we have secured for him.

    Unfortunately, Eddie just found out that the last resident of this fabulous place was Prince. Now Eddie had come to believe that Prince was a devil worshipper and Eddie refused to move into the home. So the studio called me. ‘You’ve got to do something, right away’!

    So I went out and found a Catholic priest and took him over to the house so he could do an exorcism of the place. I then called Eddie and all is fine now. That’s why I was late.”

  • Joel:
    This is a great idea. Those were great times. Thanks
    for helping keep them alive. Can’t wait for the Riney &
    Kitagawa papers to appear.

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