CA magazine 1970 V12 No.3
“We have two countries in California. I have good friends in southern California, but I don’t think I’d like to live there. It’s like women. There’s something here that keeps me sensually stimulated. L.A. is not my kind of chick:’New York offers a tremendous creative stimulation. Do you miss that here?
“Creativity does have a lot to do with counteraction. Like you need a wall you can push against so you can make statements. Most Easterners would feel that we don’t have that wall. A New Yorker needs much more daily conflict than a creative person needs here. There’s another kind of element that exists here. Maybe it’s geographic. Most of the people here have come in the past twenty years. There’s the ocean, it’s as far as you can go. Something unique has happened. Just look at the influence we’ve had on the rest of the country, in living style, in the arts, in technology.”
San Francisco may be a great place to live, but it is not the land of opportunity for talent in design and advertising. The clients with the big bread are not here. Jobs are scarce and job seekers are plentiful, many with experienced portfolios. Many of the people I talked to have had to set up defensive systems, time periods or screening systems to protect their own time.
But there is a lot of ability and talent here. We have featured a few of these creative people in this issue, I wish that space permitted the inclusion of more.
Many of the best firms and individuals attract a major portion of their work from other parts of the country. Many have developed new directions and needs for their talents. Nick Sidjakov offered this comment: “Designers are not working in the city, they’re working on the city. They are doing more bars and great old buildings. The graphics on the buildings here are terrific. You don’t see that in Chicago or other cities. That’s really what’s happening here, the talent is channeled into these things.
“Barbara Stauffacher and Marget Larsen deserve much of the credit for giving this an impetus. They made the building owners, and bar and restaurant owners aware of what designers could do for them.”
You can’t talk about San Francisco, or advertising, without bringing up the name of Howard Gossage. He was very much in mind as I interviewed Marget Larsen and we looked at and talked about many of his great ads. Witty, persuasive ads.
Howard also gave great speeches. These, too, utilized wit and humor to sell ideas. Perceptive, imaginative ideas. He explained the process of problem solving with an example of “how to keep dogs from pissing on fireplugs :’ I wonder if anyone ever realized how much of himself he gave to these speeches. He estimated that each one took two weeks of his time.
It was a real belt to the gut when he told me he had leukemia.
Herb Caen, columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote a beautiful thing when Howard died. With his permission, we reprint it here:
A Singular Man
YESTERDAY I mentioned that Howard Gossage’s middle name was Luck, and that he’d need all of it he could get. Well, it ran out for him at 4 :30 a.m. yesterday in Presbyterian Hospital. He died of leukemia, a kidney infection and other complications, but mainly, I think, he died because he didn’t want to live as a vegetable, never having had any experience at it.
If there were any justice, the flags would be at halfstaff all over town, for he was one of the most valuable of San Franciscans. He would have understood why they aren’t, though. As he once said in that wild Irish way of his : “Of course there isn’t any justice, buddy, and isn’t that wonderful? We’ll never run out of things to be angry about.”
Only, the buddy would have come out “b‑b-buddf’ He had an ingratiating stammer, along with a dramatic appearance that made him an unforgettable figure around town: flowing white hair, a perpetually gaunt, drawn and handsome face, the sad-sweet smile that seems to be the signature of so many Irish philosophers.
NOMINALLY he was in advertising-he hated the business, incidentally-but realistically, he was the archetypical San Francisco Renaissance man. Like most of the best men I’ve met, he never haggled over a bill and overtipped recklessly. Money meant nothing to him and he probably died broke . But he knew more about classical music than most musicians, he was better-read than most critics and he composed more graceful prose than most writers. I never met a more unbigoted man, even about bigots ; the worst he would say about anybody was “Wen, I can H ake him or 1‑leave him-not n‑necessarily in that order.”
WHAT WAS important about Howard Gossage? It’s a matter of style. There was nothing cheap or shoddy there, and his everyday presence made you feel that just being a San Franciscan was important. If a guy like Gossage picked this place over all others-in the face of constant offers from New York and Europe-then San Francisco had to be okay, b‑b-buddy. Editors, authors, tycoons and advertising men were forever seeking his advice, and he’d say, “If they want to see me all that much, they’ll just have to come HERE’
And come here they did, to his firehouse on Pacific. Talk about style : he was the first to buy an abandoned old firehouse and convert it into offices that were the last word in cool modern elegance. His lunches there were legendary. He’d call up David’s Deli, order a ton of everything, ask you to drop in at the last minute, and you’d drop everything to be there.
You’d find yourself building a pastrami sandwich next to Dr. Benjamin Spock. Or pouring a beer for John Steinbeck. Or listening to Buckminster Fuller. Or laughing at the bad jokes of Marshall McLuhan. (Gossage, more than any other person, was responsible for the launching of McLuhan as a household name‑a job he took on, like so many others, just for the hell of it, “let’s see if it works:’) Robert Manning, editor of Atlantic Monthly, was a Gossage luncheon regular. And writer Tom Wolfe, who invented a new style of reportage.
ALONG WITH Ogilvy and Doyle Dane Bernbach, Gossage was responsible for changing the whole concept of American advertising. Before they came along in the ‘50s. the approach was serious, heavy, bombastic. Gossage was the first to inject sophisticated humor and even-amid cries of “Sacrilege!”-the poking of fun at one’s own product. His first ads for Qantas, long ago, are still classics. For the then unknown airline, he devised a contest he headed : “Be the First Kid On Your Block to Own a Kangaroo!” And when a winner was finally selected, his headline read “Bronx Girl Wins Her First Kangaroo:’ The style” won the accolade of instant imitation.
DID I SAY he had no interest in money? In ‘53, Volkswagen was ready to begin advertising heavily in the U.S., and narrowed the competition to Gossage and Doyle Dane. Howard’s final presentation to VW’s directors lost him the million-dollar job: “I’ve been driving your car for years, and it’s a great little product. I don’t think you NEED any advertising:’ Later he confided wryly : “ I’ve always hated automobile accounts-but wow, I had no idea they were going to advertise THAT much!”
I SAW Howard for the last time on Tuesday afternoon. He looked worn and dazed, but he was trying bravely to keep up the old style. Marshall McLuhan had phoned him long distance to say “I can’t send you flowers, you’ve read all the books, so I’ll give you a joke.” Then followed a typical McLuhan pun that made no sense. “For a genius, he sure tells lousy jokes,” Howard mumbled. A couple of hospital technicians wheeled in a complicated kidney gadget. “That’s okay, boys, you can have the machine tonight,” he grinned weakly. As I started to leave, I said “I’ll be back to see you tomorrow,” and he sighed “W‑why would you w‑want to do that?” And when I reached the door he called out “Hey, b‑buddy, you’re not going to be m‑mad at me, are you?”
IT JUST dawned on me that I don’t even know Howard’s age. I guess he was 50-something, but he never talked about it, as he never talked about his years as a Navy combat pilot in the South Pacific and a lot of other matters he considered trilling. But to answer his last question, yes, I’m mad that he died. Damn mad.
I’d Rather be In San Francisco
In the early 60’s I was with McCann/SF and went to NYC for Lucky Lager to develop a musical theme. Got a interview with Jack Tinker Associates (in the Dorset Hotel penthouse) which in those bygone days was, along with DDB, the creative pinnacle. Lotsa money was waved in my face, but back then it meant I’d never afford to return to the Westcoast where salaries were a third less than MadAve pay. But money couldn’t buy the blessings of San Francisco & environs. Later I learned that Mary Wells filled the slot, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Recollections from (Dee) Wayne White
I was art director at Albert Frank-Guenther Law for 20 years (1958−78) and at MacFarland Advertising before that. From ’78 until retirement in ’88 I was art director at CRS Advertising, a Charles Schwab agency. I free lanced part time for about five years after retirement. Albert Frank-Guenther Law was a New York agency with five offices around the country. It was the second oldest ad agency in the U.S., founded in 1872, J. Walter Thompson being the oldest. AFGL no longer exists. Foote Cone & Belding bought the agency in 1977, closed the S.F. office in 1978, eventually selling it to former AFGL executives, who later sold it to a British agency and after merging lost its identity.
A few memories from my years at AFGL: we were located at 425 Bush St. on the 3rd floor — we had most of the floor while a competitor, Doremas Advertising occupied the rest. P&H art was on the 4th floor and P&H typographers were on the 5th as I recall. I worked frequently with Tom Hall and Chet Patterson and with their type shop. Our manager until the mid 60s was Lucrecia Kemper, an eccentric 6’ 2” lady who wore enormous hats and had a reserved table at the Palace Hotel, where she dined everyday with clients. During the holidays she invited the staff to join her — what a treat! She had worked on the United Nations formation in 1945, handling PR and knew everybody in town. She knew beans about advertising and once told Harvey Ward, a new client and amateur golf champion, that he had to pay less attention to golf and more to business (I was there and almost fell off my chair). Sadly she became senile and the two VPs took over management — Richard Cruikshank and Richard Kreuzer. She kept her title, office and secretary for a few more years till she retired. In the early 60s AFGL was asked by Bank of America (a client) to put on our payroll a fellow from Cuba. Tony had been the ambassador to Spain under Batista and had fled during the revolution; through contacts at the bank he went to work for us as a courier, sharing an office with me. He was the best dressed and best groomed employee in the office. Tony left us before we moved in 1968 to spiffier offices on Sutter St., in the remodeled old White House building.
Before I joined the agency Dick Kreuzer was handling art and production and getting more involved in account handling. The agency hired Eulalie Fuller as production manager shortly before I joined. We had several copywriters/AEs over time — Eddy Bennett, Bob Connolly, Bob Johnston, Larry Larson, Ralph Grady and Bill Robin. Other production managers who came and went included: Alice Wells, Jane McKenzie, John Madden and Shawn Miller. I was the only art director. Some of the free lance artists and photographers I worked with back then: Bob Thorsen, Bob Tamura, Ed Gross, Al Joe, Lon Fox, Lowell Herrero, Bayne Kihneman, Nick Carter, Ted Castle, and many I can’t remember. Our branch office usually employed about 20 – 24 people and when we closed there were about 15 of us.
In the early 70s we had a tiny client named Charles Schwab & Co. Mr. Cruikshank who was by then sole manager advised Dick Kreuzer, the AE, to get rid of that client — it was too small and required too much time. He was right, but Dick K. was even more right — he saw the growth potential. When Foote Cone closed the AFGL office in 1978 Chuck Schwab asked Dick K. to open an agency to serve his account, he did and asked me to join him, which I did. Boy, were we smart! It proved to be an exciting and rewarding 10 years. Dick Kreuzer moved to Oregon after he retired in 1987…my wife and I visited him and his wife there every year until his death in 2004. Dick Cruikshank passed away a couple of years after that, he was a great guy to work for. After I retired I painted watercolors and showed my work in galleries and entered shows. I’m a member of the California Watercolor Assoc. (along with Al Joe and David Broad) and served on its board for many years. I’m not active with the Association anymore and don’t enter many shows, but I occasionally get a commission to paint a landscape or portrait. I enjoy painting plein air, especially when traveling to Alaska and Washington to visit two of my sons and grandkids, or on vacation trips. Last October I traveled with three sons (no wives) to France where I enjoyed painting in Honfleur on the Normandy coast.
I still keep in touch with Vicky Quattro and Eulalie Fuller Glaser from AFGL. On a personal note, in addition to three sons I have one daughter and a five year old grandson living here in Walnut Creek. Two of my sons each have two children, ages 10 to 16. I don’t have any work samples handy from the AFGL days…some are probably packed in the attic but I have no desire to get up there.
I’d never get a job in advertising these days, nor would I want one. Everything is so high tech now and from my “Old Geezer” point of view the quality of the ads do not compare with the golden days of advertising — the 1960s. I’ve never made the picnic because we’re either traveling or it’s my wife’s birthday, maybe I’ll make it this year. My regards to the Old Geezers who might remember me.
(Dee) Wayne White 2/1/12