While I was at Barnum Communications (April 7, 1976 — 1978) the agency had been in a law-suit for pirating a medical account from J. Walter Thompson. The case went on for a long time. (The”Creatives” in Barnum even created ballads sung with a guitar played by our copywriter.) The judgement was that Dr. Jim Barnum was to “cease and desist working in the West”.
Bob Buechert and the partners that were left, re-named the group: Vicom Associates. The agency moved to a new location, the south east side of the third floor of 901 Battery Street, between Vallejo and Green Streets.
When the agency moved, I moved with them, we all were there in the years 1978 to 1987.
The building, originating as a cigar warehouse, had ceilings that were very high, ranging from 13′8″ to 15’10”.
Vicom partners and creatives had offices along the outside walls and cubicles were in the open floor area. For the good natural light, I was on the east side. My view was of “Busvan for Bargains” (to which I would run across the street in my spare time to find treasures to haul home. Good to see that it is still there.)
And where did I park? Because my assignments were usually discussed by the agency’s creatives in the early morning, I could usually arrive after the morning rush. The parking lot on Vallejo Street was full by then except for a corner slot that was small because of a shed. My little Datsun 510 could slip into that spot.
Later, when Vicom acquired more space on the north side of the building, I was moved down the hall to the new “Art Department”, a large open work space with rooms along the window side.
Vicom provided the use of a new “luci”, a stand-up model that lit and projected the original image from near to the floor and up to a clear glass. I could only use tracing paper to resize and copy my work. Still, it was a way. (I cannot find an image of the contraption, so I show this sketch.) The Agfa photostat equipment was not included in the move to Battery Street.
The History of 901 Battery Street
901 Battery Street is listed on the historic Database: https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=191466
In 1906, Raffaello Petri created the Petri AA Twins Cigars (all dry-cured tobacco. from Kentucky and Tennessee). The cigars were so popular that Petri was chosen to have a pavilion at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.
901 Battery Street, built in 1923, was Petri’s cigar manufacturing warehouse which had 88,699 sq. ft., on four floors.
Previously, in 1886, Raffaello Petri had a family run vineyard in San Francisco. After prohibition, 1933, Petri housed his Petri Wine Company in the warehouse. In 1939 Petri sponsored the radio program: “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and again “The New Adventures of…” from 1943 to 1946.They produced: red, white. rose. sparkling, apéritif, and dessert wines.
The photo of the early warehouse shows the Green Street side of the building. By 1953, Petri grew to be the largest producer of wines in the USA.
San Francisco Advertising Art’s 10th Advertising Art Exhibition annual publication in 1958 shows two ads. The ad agency was Young & Rubicam, inc., the art director was Jack Allen and the photographers were Ken Bess and Dale Wilson Smith. (Petri, by then, had become United Vintners.)
There is much to be found on-line.. The cigars are offered at Cigar Store House. The 1915 postcards are shown on ebay.
Cultural Changes for the Workplace
A cultural change at this time was the way we and other businesses worked. Vicom Associates had a copy machine. (The Xerox, copy machine was actually invented on October 22, 1938, but it wasn’t until 1959 when it appeared and made a major change in the workplace.)
I hadn’t been aware of any new equipment for business use until the free-lance assignment I had, offered by Richard Moore. His client was to send a mailer offering this wide choice of desk-top equipment.
Richard was to illustrate each item. (BTW, I never was able (not having the patience) to attempt architectural-realistic type illustration.) Richard asked me to create this fellow with an arm-full of new computerized equipment.
I usually began with several tracing-paper versions of the character. This was #7 of the choices.
Computers for Healthcare Products
In my work of medical layouts for Vicom, there were examples of computer equipment in the medical field. There were also medical ads with artwork (concepts of the internal body) suggesting what the new computerized equipment, like an MRI, could show.
A layout trick for very small images: On the page that shows three very small layouts, the details of the computer was achieved by painting over a photo that was Xeroxed.
Vicom used the photo of the huge 1945 Univac computer in a six-panel folder to promote Syntex birth control pills. The brochure was presented to family practices and Ob/Gyn offices.
Rex and I , Co-Workers, Again
When I quit Graphics to join Barnum Communications, Rex Simmons had considered moving also, but he stayed with Graphics < Corporate Graphics until they also moved to 901 Battery Street, on the 2nd floor. So, when he chose to move to Vicom, he only had to carry his stuff one floor up in the elevator.
Rex Simmons had been tight friends with Bob Buechert since the late 1960s at our 680 Beach Street location. He was soon a friend with all at Vicom. Rex had creative and art director skills developed through the years since his early work in London. And for Vicom, he was even a model!
This ad was for IVAC the new computer version of a thermometer.
You see Rex as a patient, but as this ad was in production, the photo was referred to as:
”The not quite dead Rex”! In no time that title was designed on T‑shirts and became the name of a one-night-only bowling team.
Ads Not Directed to the General Public
I was assigned ads that were “soft sell” or “hard sell”.
Below: my light line illustrations in this medical journal ad was for a birth control product.
The bold layout of Naprosyn 500 was to convey the power and speed to fight pain. The comp for the medical trade-show exhibit carried the same theme and offered the attendees, a photo-op with the race car at the finish-line.
All that was produced by Vicom was directed to the medical / healthcare field, not to the public.
(This was before medical advertising moved into commercials on television.)
Here is more on Dr. Barnum and Rx ads:: https://www.mahf.com/inductee/dr-jim-barnum/
Now, the USA and New Zealand are the only countries that advertise prescription-only pharmaceuticals directly to possible consumers.
There was one more move to a new location for Vicom Associates and me. That will be in Part Five.