Job Changes

When many of those who worked commer­cially, came to the time to make a change or retire, they usually stepped into another avenue related to their talent: fine arts painting, personal photog­raphy, sculp­ture, writing, deco­ra­tive wear, event designing & plan­ning, profes­sional crafts, book design, teaching, theatre and more. Their unique talents, perfected through the years, were valu­able in pursuing their new inter­ests.

Bruce Wolfe
When Bruce Wolfe switched full-time, from 2D illus­tra­tion to 3D sculp­ture — he surprised many in our ‘graphics’ circles. Bruce had a wide range of painting styles. This move, out of the commer­cial adver­tising arena, gave a huge opening to others. Here is Bruce’s sculp­ture of photog­ra­pher Ed Zak – and I show Ed Zak in 2006.

Chris Blum
In the 1960s and ‘70s— ‘Levi’s Brand’ in San Fran­cisco — many of us think: Chris Blum!
There were Levi’s posters, ads, and TV commer­cials (from Dancer Fitzgerald and Sample) like this one:

Now, his favorite art form is boxes – – that make you stop, and ques­tion, and wonder!
You can see Chris Blum’s websites in our list­ings: “Still in The Game” and “Artist’s Sites” in the columns at left and right.

David Broad
Dave Broad has said: “I found my heart and wife in San Fran­cisco”. He also found a long and successful oppor­tu­nity – he joined Land­phere Asso­ciates. Dave found that art studio was full of great people – and Max Land­phere, was a close friend. There, Dave created humorous Illus­tra­tions. After many years, Dave decided that it was time to start free­lancing. Time to be working from home, as his third child was due to arrive there. His light-hearted Illus­tra­tions continued to grace many publi­ca­tions. When he stepped away from commer­cial work, that was his chance to show his water­color talents — from the classic water­color styles to bright abstracts.

Jack Allen
We posted a full story of Jack Allen’s photog­raphy, previ­ously. I missed showing this sample of his 1965 “Lucky Lager” photog­raphy. This time we empha­size his change from photog­raphy to painting. The style of his paint­ings are now subjects for jig-saw puzzles: “Company Town” (500 pieces) and “Nob Hill” (1000 pieces) are shown – very popular for all ages who are now staying close to their homes.

Kirsten Tirsbak Nusser
Kirsten arrived from Denmark in late 1965, and worked for Psychology Today Maga­zine in San Diego and design studios in LA.
I first met Kirsten when I joined Barnum Commu­ni­ca­tions, later FCB, in 1976. For many years we both covered medical ad agency needs as art direc­tors, graphic designers and layout artists. (Shown: a medical journal ad for Aleve® and the Genen­tech HER2 Patient Educa­tion Brochure (Cancer) –for which Kirsten won an RX Award.)
During many big campaigns, we were often working nights and week­ends, after everyone else had gone home! After I left FCB health­care in 1995, Kirsten stayed, and was employed there as Art Director, until retiring in early 2001. Then her time became open — to design jewelry (and she also teaches jewelry-making). Kirsten said she espe­cially enjoyed designing the back­drops and coming up with fun ideas for this event in 2019: Speak Easy Night Club, for the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Fran­cisco.

Mik Kita­gawa
Here was another move to sculp­ture. Mik Kita­gawa worked at various ad agen­cies in San Fran­cisco.
He started in print, got into TV at Y&R on Goodyear. When he moved to other agen­cies he did both TV and print.
This entry into the SFSCA 1974 compe­ti­tion won him a gold medal.
Once on his own, he found many loca­tions to sculpt. I didn’t know Mik at the time, except for his appear­ances at McGovern’s on Vallejo Street. Then he would attend the Geezer Gath­er­ings. Richard and I visited one of his “open-studios” and we purchased this figure. This bronze piece, Mik titled: “Romeo and…”.

Norm Nicholson
Just recently we received a note from Norm Nicholson. I have posted his illus­tra­tions, but now he is writing his memoirs.
Norm’s note to me:

Hi Ann
I knew you were a native of San Fran­cisco. That is a great story of your mother working in the defense industry in Rich­mond. She was one of the orig­inal Rosie the Riveters. You have to start writing your memoirs with all the years of growing up in SF. Or you prob­ably have started.
I have to get back to it myself as I have let the pen drop so to speak. I have written a lot of memoir mate­rial as I had been in several writing work­shops. It’s really for my Grand­son’s and Grand daugh­ters, who would enjoy them.

Rory Phoenix
I would see Rory Phoenix, also at McGovern’s. I knew that he was in adver­tising but I didn’t know of his copy­writing talent. That was back in the 1980s. I remember seeing the ”Pin Drop” commer­cial on TV.
I changed my lunch spots when McGovern’s became a ‘fern bar’ called “Grumpy’s”— so I no longer saw these ad men at lunchtime. Then in 2010, in our Marin Inde­pen­dent Journal, I saw Rory Phoenix again — a painter!
I was able to reach Rory and he sent this:
“McGovern’s” late 70s early 80s was an era of long lunches. I remember the owner Seamus poured very generous drinks.
I worked at JWT ‘til ‘87 and left for Chicago, then NY in ‘87. Came back to JWT 9 – 32000. Painted all my life and was an art director ‘til the Mac turned layout into a commodity and became all about Photo­shop. Copy­writing always seemed easier. Heck, I wrote half the scripts and head­lines anyway.
I continue to work remotely where age doesn’t seem to matter. I think the Internet gave a lot of us “geezers” a fresh oppor­tu­nity, after they’d shunted us out when we started looking too much like “Dad”.

You can see Rory Phoenix’s websites in our list­ings: “Still in The Game” and “Artist’s Sites” in the columns at left and right.

With so many at home and not sure of being employed again – – I find that, very much like the time that I had to retire before retire­ment age. It was 1996 and I was age 55 when I moved out of my studio located in San Fran­cisco. It was not: “Now, what else can I do?” it was “I know what I need to do”.
I became a care­giver. I had already been assisting my aunt who had been on her own for nine years. I had been able to stop by “in the avenues” after work. So helping my aunt, taking on some free-lance jobs and other family matters filled my time. But then from 2002 to 2011, my mother needed my help.
Care giving starts with the closing down of resi­dences.
(Totally out of my realm of expe­ri­ence) was the “first job” – – when a small mobile home that I sold through a realtor – was aban­doned before the full payment. The prop­erty had been wrecked and my “trusted” realtor turned her back on me. I needed to refur­bish, adver­tise and make the appoint­ments and show the prop­erty, and sell the mobile home. I even wrote a new sales agree­ment that incor­po­rated the rules of the mobile home park with the legal require­ments for selling. This is just to say that, when you have a new task, you can tackle it.
All this was before the time when daily health-care was needed full time.

Senior-care wasn’t in my art instruc­tion, but my past assign­ments in the medical ad agen­cies gave me the interest to illus­trate what I was learning with this new chal­lenge. I also took photos of foods, home­care equip­ment and my mother. (I was lucky that she was always sweet and accepted all that I tried when there were changes made and she required more help.)
As a full time care­giver, I was not making money – but I was saving it. No more free-lance busi­ness expenses, no hired help to our home.
There were those who suggested that my mother be placed in senior home. I couldn’t “not know” what was happening to her daily – or even hourly.

So, as I was learning what was required, I was making a record of every­thing. I was “on the job” as I had been all those years at my drawing board.
My past assign­ments had shown a lot of step-by-step instruc­tions. My past expe­ri­ence with type and photo selec­tion helped when I created a binder of infor­ma­tion. A visiting hospice nurse once suggested that my binder of care would be useful for the Red Cross to share with the public after a natural disaster. Family members might need some easy-to-view instruc­tions.

There were vaca­tions that I had to refuse, but I used the time for family research, family trees, and keeping this Geezer group as an exten­sion of the friends that I had from previous years. After 2011, I continued almost full time with these projects.

The change of job for me, I know now, is that I write. I hadn’t been into writing since my high-school years. Now I’m writing for this Geezers site, computer type designing of family roots, and I wrote a small (48 page) book of my paternal grand­par­ents.
Another big job change for me is that I take digital photos! I have taken thou­sands of shots as we have visited (monthly for 6.5 years) the building of the “Matthew Turner” – – a tribute to the master ship-builder of 228 ships who was related to one of my most favorite persons since 1964: Murray Hunt. I can’t say that I am a “photog­ra­pher” but I am espe­cially enjoying this new job change and also using my favorite tool – – this computer. (But I do still draw on paper.) I even submitted this cartoon to the New Yorker maga­zine. But it was rejected.
My changes did not make money. So many people are looking into what else they can do to bring in income.

Still, at this time, when it is safer to keep family members together — I know that I would again choose being a family care­giver.

Ann Thompson

Heart Art

There was a recent inter­view with Dr. David Katz who co-wrote the book “How To Eat”. He promotes “lifestyle medi­cine”. He worked as a relief support to the doctors in a NYC hospital and described the speed of symp­toms and quick spread of Covid-19. He also mentioned the high risks of the slow — yet inevitable results of heart prob­lems.

Back in the ‘80s, I was given the assign­ment for the following illus­tra­tions to show the “good” and the “bad” in caring for one’s heart. Dr. C. Everett Koop was the US Surgeon General in the years: 1982 – – 1989 and the following was the plan for a “Special Program Co-Sponsored by AMA, ACC and NHLBI”.*
*The Amer­ican Medical Asso­ci­a­tion (founded in 1847), the Amer­ican College of Cardi­ology (1949) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Insti­tute (1948).
“Oper­a­tion High Risk Recue” was “A National Physi­cians’ Crusade for Imme­diate Action on High Choles­terol Patients With Heart Disease and Multiple Risks”. This campaign was directed to all physi­cians with patients seeking help.

I was free­lancing with VICOM ASSOCIATES at 901 Battery Street, SF. I was asked by their creative director, Lester Barnett to be inspired for my art style by Geof­frey Moss, the polit­ical illus­trator. My art tool was a black marker; so I was not able repli­cate the crisp pen and ink lines from the deft hand of Mr. Moss. I never did know what written copy or other elements completed this produc­tion:

Another “heart” assign­ment was in 1990 for the new part­ner­ship of Vicom / FCB. The job was for a Genen­tech Family Day — Saturday, Sept. 15, 1990. The project was an educa­tional set of three large printed sheets for youths to learn the parts of the heart and the action of blood in the heart. The instruc­tions were given to use certain colors to fill in areas to make it all easy to under­stand.
I’m not a kid, but after all these years, I decided that I’d color these up. I actu­ally have a newish box of Crayola Crayons and my Pris­ma­color pencils. But now there is this Adobe Photo­shop with colors and paint brush — right in front of me that I could use.
This is – a good way of learning these areas and actions of the heart!

I show a 4‑page layout for Genen­tech, Inc. My “go to” method for quick layouts was sketching the subject with Berol Pris­ma­color pencils smeared with a tissue with “Bestine” thinner (I was warned to wear gloves or wash hand imme­di­ately but who had time?) and high­lighted with white drawing ink in a ruling pen. The 4th page of the layout had red marker added. The 2‑page ad was published in a Medical Journal—the back page shows a 1989 copy­right.
I have no knowl­edge of how layouts are created now, when the computer has replace the drawing board.

Heart disease is still the top world­wide health risk — where the source begins within the patient – – inher­ited, a birth defect or the result of a personal lifestyle. The excep­tion – – is an outside expo­sure, like Covid-19, that stresses the heart.

As it was in the past, the present virus pandemic risk – is where the source was (some­where in the world) from just one individual’s occu­pa­tion or lifestyle.
The virus can be from various living crea­tures (monkey, ape, bovine, avian, swine or — ?).
The animal that carries the virus “lives” with it. The virus evolves to adopt a new host, a human that tries to adjust to it and it spreads glob­ally — Its genetic code mutates, evolving more as it travels. So viruses, too, have lifestyles.

Hope­fully, more educa­tion of and atten­tion to risky human “lifestyles” — will iden­tify a virus when it has jumped to that first person — and isolate it imme­di­ately.

Ann Thompson

On the Lighter Side.

On the Lighter Side.
For the youth and the youthful.

I didn’t get many assign­ments for chil­dren. Now that we are cooped-up in the house, I am trying to stay on the light side, which brings three assign­ments to mind.

1972 – 1973 Neo-Mull-Soy
This was fun! While working on this product for Klemptner Casey, I felt that the soy formula was a great product and I could design ducks. The design of the duck (and color choices) came to be as the tall carton with slanted type was being designed. The walking duck was at the bottom. An insert for the carton was this punch-out mobile with 2 of the ducks. As a gift for a child, I was asked to construct a 3‑D duck that could be punched out of one sheet of stiff paper – to be printed with yellow, orange, green and (for the duck’s eyes) black. I made the pattern and constructed the duck as samples at two sizes but this was never taken to the finished printed piece. The gift for the child became the little “plush toy” duck. I felt that a child would have more appre­ci­a­tion and learn constructing skills with my paper 3‑D Duck.

1980 to 1985 Cutter Biolog­ical
I still have seven­teen copies of the publi­ca­tion, “ECHO” (Educa­tion and Commu­ni­ca­tion for Hemo­phil­iacs and Others) in which I was assigned the design and illus­tra­tion of the center spread. All was accom­plished with the basic line work and colored with markers. The two pages were titled, “Just For Fun” – directed to the chil­dren with hemo­philia.
My assign­ments were from Ketchum Adver­tising / San Fran­cisco Tech­nology Unit. My involve­ment lasted from February 1980 to March 1985 – – with a gap in between.
At one period of time, I was not receiving the regular timed requests for my contri­bu­tion. The last issue that I had submitted was for the May1982 issue. There had been no warning to me that the client had moved the publi­ca­tion to New York City, to be prepared by Gross Townsend Frank, Inc.! I found a June 1983 issue. Then, it wasn’t until May of 1984 that I was contacted to carry-on as previous for the June 1984 ECHO. My favorite chal­lenge was again back on my drawing board until March 1985.
I was rewarded when a letter to “ECHO” was published. It was a thank-you from a parent in behalf of their child who enjoyed having “his own pages”.

1998 – 1999 Humon­gous Enter­tain­ment
Do you remember the early Netscape? Begin­ning in 1994, Netscape Navi­gator wasn’t the very first, but the earliest widely used browser. This was the only job I had to be found on Netscape at that time. Here is the art of series of ten ‘Mad-Libs” Weather Reports designed for Humon­gous Enter­tain­ment.
The art was a single back­ground scene, of a front yard. All of the other illus­tra­tions had to fit onto this “stage”. You can see an overlay plan for ”Wind”. Then: SUN, RAIN, RAINING CATS & DOGS, RAINING HATS & HOGS, RAINING ICE CREAM CONES, RAINING SPAGHETTI, RAINING TOMATOES, SNOW, THUNDER & LIGHTNING, WIND.

As an example of the “Wacky World­wide Weather Report”, it is played (A) by first making a list, typing in the words required. Then (B) by pressing a button that said: “Make Head­lines!” and then Pajama Sam imme­di­ately wove your words into the story. You may notice the pixel back­ground pattern that was showing on my computer as I took screen shots.

I’m hoping that all who see this are safe and healthy. Maybe this collec­tion will bring a smile – – and from your other family members, too.

Ann Thompson

The Rest Of The Story

Three short reports — two resulting in tight friend­ships.
A Client — and much later — A Friend.
I recently received emails from Jill Perkins who told me about one of our industry’s un-sung heroes. John Perkins was there at Rapid Typog­ra­phers. (Estab­lished in 1963. Rapid Typog­ra­phers Co, Inc. provided type & graphic services to the local SF Ad Agen­cies, and Graphic Designers.)

John helped save many of us meet out morning presen­ta­tions by staying late hours preparing type galleys and/or final copy type and head­lines, ready for paste-up. (The follow-up is the friend­ship with a client – – long after the working years.)

This is Jill’s report:
John Perkins John was a part owner of Rapid Typog­raphy before it became Rapid, working with adver­tising agen­cies sending them proofs and disks and working with them for the benefit of their compa­nies.

John was the plant manager and hands on worker, often working late at night to meet agency’s dead­lines. John retired in 2006 and enjoyed working at home making Chardonnay wine in our 50 vines vine­yard he planted from scratch when we moved into our house in the late ‘90’s which had a large down­hill grass­land seem­ingly non-useable area. John designed the vine­yard and a large vegetable garden in this area, and we enjoyed our wine and vegeta­bles for many years.

One of his clients, Henry Wachs, designed the logo for UCSF. Henry created the first “MZ” block logo for Mount Zion Hospital and early iter­a­tions of BankAmeri­card.

After Henry retired John lost touch with him. Henry moved to live at The Redwoods in Mill Valley, and John, who had applied as a volun­teer companion with a local commu­nity agency — by pure happen chance though the volun­teer agency — was linked up with Henry because of their back­grounds. They became fast friends and compan­ions, going out to lunch and for walks weekly until Henry died at 91. John also became friends with Henry’s family.

John worked with many agen­cies, and many of them would come into Rapid, often at night to oversee the dead­lines.

I believe he met and worked with Lowell Herero, and as cat lovers, we always bought his wall calendar for our kitchen and loved the musing cat char­ac­ters.

Jill Perkins

1‑John Perkins
2‑Oct.3, 2012, Geezer Gath­ering with Henry Wachs
3‑On our way to Croatia, our last trip in May/June of 2019. We had a wonderful trip,
Don’t put off anything you want to do, as John Lennon so eloquently put it:
“Life happens when you’re making plans.”

A Second Phone Company !
Klemtner Casey Inc. was located at The Wharf­side Building on Beach Street In 1971. They gave me the following assign­ments. These two ad layouts were to intro­duce a new phone company – – to compete with the GIANT Bell Tele­phone Company! That client and the agency wanted me to show Bell Tele­phone restricted, and less of a monopoly. I couldn’t show “Ma Bell” tied up – – so we chose to show a giant, instead.

(The following, with thanks and my small $ contri­bu­tions to Wikipedia).
The Bell System was the system of compa­nies, led by the Bell Tele­phone C0. and later by AT&T which domi­nated the tele­phone services industry in North America for 100 years from its creation in 1877 until its demise in the early 1980s. The system of compa­nies was often collo­qui­ally called Ma Bell (as in “Mother Bell”), as it held a near-complete monopoly over tele­phone service in most areas of the United States and Canada. At the time of its breakup in the early 1980s, the Bell System had assets of $150 billion (equiv­a­lent to $370 billion in 2019) and employed over one million people.

(The Bell System logo and trade­mark was designed by Saul Bass in 1969.)

After this job, I never found out if Arcata Commu­ni­ca­tions became a viable compe­ti­tion to “the only phone company” avail­able. So now I looked up the name and the time and found that there were at least 3 years of legal action (19711973). The Indus­trial Reor­ga­ni­za­tion Act: The commu­ni­ca­tions industry by United States Congress. Senate Committee on the Judi­ciary. Subcom­mittee on Antitrust and Monopoly.

I could not find the result of that inves­ti­ga­tion.

Ann Thompson

A Silent Hero

It was the mid sixties, I had only worked at Honig, Cooper, & Harrington for a couple of months.

I did the art direc­tion on 3 in store posters for United Vint­ners ( Italian Swiss Colony ) I got Nic Sidjakov to do 3 beau­tiful full size tight comps. The meeting to present the work was at 4:00 pm, the Ad Manager showed up about a hour late. It was obvious that he just stum­bled out of a 4 hour 4 Martini lunch and he was totally wasted.

I was wearing Levi’s, Boots, Long hair, etc. I started to present the work and he started to give me a really hard time about the way I was dressed and the way I looked. I ignored him and just continued with the presen­ta­tion, and he got worse and worse and would not pay atten­tion to the fabu­lous work that Nic Sidjakov had done.He became totally abusive so I picked up the work and told him he was an asshole and I and I left.

When I left one of the two Account Exec­u­tives in the meeting was actu­ally crying as
this was her account and this thing had gone completely out of control. I went back to my office and started packing up my stuff thinking that there was no way I was not going to be fired. The two account exec’s imme­di­ately went to Bill Honig’s office and told him what happened. As I was packing my stuff Honig walked into my office and said “put that stuff away-nobody that works for me will ever be treated like that-don’t worry I’ll take care of it”

Two weeks later the obnox­ious ad manager was fired and the posters were approved and produced.
Honig and I became really good friends and he helped me in so many ways I can’t even count them. Few people know…but Bill Honig was a Angel of Ramparts and Rolling Stone, he person­ally paid for a anti smoking campaign, and he was a major art collector but I think he was most proud of being on Nixon’s White House Enemy List !

Chris Blum ( who wouldn’t be here today without Bill Honig )

So what happened to HC&H?
I found this:
UCR / The Cali­fornia Digital News­paper Collec­tion–Desert Sun, 1-10-1975
LOS ANGELES — Foote, Cone & Belding, eighth largest adver­tising agency in the U.S., and Honig-Cooper & Harrington, largest inde­pen­dent adver­tising agency on the West Coast have reported the comple­tion of the previ­ously announced merger that results in one agency with western billings in excess of $100 million. The announce­ment was made by Louis Honig, HCH board chairman, and Louis E. Scott, chairman of FCB’s exec­u­tive committee. A newly formed subsidiary, Foote, Cone & Belding/Honig, will manage the agen­cies’ merged western U.S. oper­a­tions. FCB/Honig will be the largest adver­tising agency oper­a­tion in the Western market. Honig becomes chairman and chief exec­u­tive officer of FCB/Honig. Scott continues as chairman of the exec­u­tive committee and a director of the parent company, Foote, Cone & Belding Commu­ni­ca­tions, Inc. Honig is head­quar­tered in San Fran­cisco and Scott in Los Angeles. The San Fran­cisco offices of HCH and FCB will be combined into one office, while the Los Angeles offices of HCH and FCB will continue as sepa­rate units.

Another follow-up,
I am plan­ning a future post about Nic Sidjakov who was, I think, the most prolific and versa­tile illus­trator in San Fran­cisco at the time of Chris Blum’s story.

Ann Thompson


—about fifty years ago and today.

In January of 1972, I was designing the graphics for a plastic container to hold meal­worms – packed with thir diet of corn­meal, to be sold to ”bait” fish­ermen. (Dried meal­worms were and are sold as pet food and chicken feed.) But Mighty Mealys were prooduced to a larger size and sold “alive”! The printed promo mate­rial was for the bait shop owners. But they learned quickly to empty each package into a large glass container. (*If the product didn’t sell quickly, the shop would have been crawling). For a sale, the meal­worms with their corn­meal were then scooped out and counted and put into the Mighty Mealys plastic containers.
I still have one to show here. It is a fairlly stiff plastic and there are tiny pin holes around the lid for oxygen. The container’s instruc­tions says: to keep the pack­ages of 50 or 100 meal­worms out of the sun or heat and for longer life add a water source, such as an apple or a carrot.

I wrote of this project, here in 2011 (see: Geezers’ Gallery Pack­aging Worms) .
My report then, told how the sample package with the product inside — was left for too many days and the *meal­worms ate their way out of the plastic container.
Back then, we didn’t know that today there would be three swirling islands of plas­tics in the Pacific Ocean – each the size of Texas and giant walls of plastic trash – waiting in recy­cling ware­houses and collecting on remote Easter Island’s beaches.
The plas­tics, huge to micro­scopic, are diffi­cult to collect and impos­sible to melt, bury or burn.

Just about a month ago, in the San Fran­cisco Chron­icle of 122219, I saw this report that Stan­ford Univer­sity had recently discov­ered that meal­worms eat plastic.
Now, with one of the biggest trash prob­lems on earth — how can we cover our problem with these crit­ters that morph into beetles to fly off to a tastier diet in corn­fields?
Their excre­ment is only partially organic. There are chem­i­cals from the plastic in the drop­pings that are small enough to blow away. The report doesn’t explain how this research can affect the problem.

On 11020, PBS’s KQED presented an hour on plas­tics where it was said that a bacteria might dine on the chem­i­cals that are in plas­tics. And — will they be good bacteria or — ?
The PBS report told of highway surfaces made from one kind of recy­cled plastic because of it’s long life, but that use isn’t enough to make any differ­ence as re-use. Also footwear has re-used selected plas­tics. It is the 10 ft. walls of mixed plastic trash that is collecting on streets and floating in the seas.
Boycott of prod­ucts sold in plas­tics? Bring your own containers?
Make the purchaser respon­sible? Make the producers respon­sible?
Develop an organic, quickly degrad­able mate­rial to replace plastic?
The report showed a residual from beer-making that produced a plastic-like mate­rial that can even be eaten.
Some solu­tions are needed, SOON !

More, from then—
This was the time that the US market­place received a new kind of world­wide product from various phar­ma­ceu­tical labo­ra­to­ries.

I was free­lancing at that same time (1969 to 1974) with a small art studio (graphics*) in the Wharf­side Building (680 Beach Street, SF). Our loca­tion was next to the offices of Klemptner Casey, a phar­ma­ceu­tical adver­tising agency with Robert Buechert as Creative Director. Our group was able to be their art service for most of their clients’ needs (as well as our other accounts in San Fran­cisco).
KC had Syntex Labs as their client, which had recently won approval of one of the first oral preg­nancy contra­cep­tives. The “pill” became very contro­ver­sial but it was also the time of “women’s liber­a­tion era” in the USA.
Some worried about side effects — some objected that the oral contra­cep­tive would prevent a “natural event”. Up to 1973 (Roe vs. Wade) untold numbers of females of all ages in the USA were dying from amateur proce­dures to stop preg­nan­cies. Even today, the U.S. ranks far behind other indus­tri­al­ized nations in maternal mortality. I didn’t have statis­tics when I ques­tioned my ethic on working on this product– but I felt that the pill would protect women and its promo­tion would not be a mistake.

The launch of the Syntex’s “Norinyl 180” and “Norinyl 1 – 50”— required medical journal ads, brochures, patient aid book­lets, pack­aging and more.
The 8‑panel (two panels were prescribing Infor­ma­tion) brochure, shown below, had a two-page photo. It was a very expen­sive re-creation of a 1934 labo­ra­tory. I never knew the photog­ra­pher or the team that set up the room. (There is one error – some­thing not accu­rate for the date of the fake labo­ra­tory.) The brochure, launching the product, was the complete story of the devel­op­ment of the oral contra­cep­tive. The Mexican barbasco yam was the basis of the “pill” that changed many lifestyles.

(Above, the tiny error in the re-created labo­ra­tory was the two “grounded” elec­trical sockets – below the white jacket hanging on the wall).

I show the pack­aging for Syntex’s Brevicon 28-day tablets. My orig­inal subtle colors, had to be changed to brighter colors because the pack­aging was changed to blue, instead of white. The floral illus­tra­tion needed to be brighter.

Phar­ma­ceu­tical labs and physi­cians were teaching women of repro­duc­tive age how to use their 28-day product each month. The labs couldn’t package the pills loosely in large quan­ti­ties – – each pill for the month had to be punched out in sequence from a card with a thin foil backing. The style of the dispensers, that held the cards, varied from one “brand” of pill to the next.
Promoting the style of the plastic dispenser was empha­sized to the Syntex product repre­sen­ta­tives that called on the physi­cians who would write the prescrip­tions for their patients.

Here are 10 of 72 images from a slide presen­ta­tion to Brevicon reps promoting Brevicon and the pill holder — in compar­ison to competing brands.

(Why did I only show men as doctors? My mother had a woman doctor, way back when I was born !)

The Wallette was a discreet cover for the pill dispenser. For the 5‑view layout, I acci­den­tally rendered one of the female hands darker than the others. It was a lucky error because that caused a discus­sion to choose, for this file folder, a hand-model with a tan– to suggest patients were other than white females.

In 1974, Syntex and other medical prod­ucts moved from Klemptner Casey to J. Walter Thompson and later from JWT to an agency named Barnum Commu­ni­ca­tions (with Bob Buechert at each move).
In 1975, I began free-lancing at Barnum Commu­ni­ca­tions (owner Jim Barnum was of the circus family). JWT had filed legal action for moving Syntex prod­ucts to his agency, newly located at 560 Pacific Avenue, SF.
Time went by, there were even “law-suit” ballads composed by the musi­cally inclined who worked at Barnum Commu­ni­ca­tions. Finally JWT settled. The case was dropped when Mr. Barnum agreed to “cease and desist working in the West”. That left about seven of the agency founders to inherit all of the clients.
1977 there was a move to 901 Battery Street with the new name Vicom Asso­ciates. After another move to One Lombard Street, a few years passed and it was acquired by Foote, Cone & Belding Health­care as Vicom / FCB.
Shown below: Two sections, of a 6‑page, 1992 Vicom / FCB Anniver­sary Party Report. I didn’t know of these parties, but was asked to illus­trate this one. (My illus­tra­tion of “The VICOM Culture” was flopped hori­zon­tally before printing, causing the “initial V” to look strange. The last three show: my window, my work­space and my parking space on the roof (just my car, another week-end dead­line).

One Lombard was my last San Fran­cisco loca­tion.
( Follow0up: So how many other prod­ucts, housed in plastic, did I promote? I’ll have to check back. But who even knew at that time, that one-use-plastics were piling up?)
Ann Thompson