That’s not the way is was

Having worked in seven agen­cies from the mid 50s to the late 80s as a copy­writer, creative director and Pres­i­dent, I find the adver­tising busi­ness as depicted in Mad Men wholly foreign to my expe­ri­ence. For example, I never ever saw a single bottle of hooch on premises (we did our drinking off-site). Come the 60s writers and art direc­tors wouldn’t be caught dead in a tie much less a suit (unless visiting a client). Except for Exec­u­tive Art Direc­tors, Creative Direc­tors and the odd Copy Group Head, creatives were housed in unim­posing cubi­cles. Whoever praised Mad Men for it’s histor­ical accu­racy” never visited the thirty or forty agen­cies I was familiar with. It was/is a fun busi­ness, but not that much fun!

Samm Coombs

The Prince Of Pranksters

The Prince Of Pranksters

One of the finest people, (not just a rapid-fire, right-on Art Director) — but a real “people”, was named Herb Briggs.

He was working at BBD &O when I fist met him. I was a curious young-punk Junior Writer back then and Herb was nice to me.

An unusual event for that agency. Herb Briggs was Hal Riney’s go-to man when Hal needed a fist full of rapid designs to show an existing client, or to pitch a new one. Because of all the Riney pres­sure (and anyone who worked for Hal knows what I mean), Herb drank a bit (Harring­ton’s Bar usually). That’s where I’d spot him on my way to work.

But, the story I’d like to tell is about Herb’s time at Y & R in the early 60s. That’s when he was the consu­mate “prac­tical joker” (please kids, don’t try any of these without parental super­vi­sion). Herb was about 5 foot 8 and he prob­ably weighed about 180, but he was incred­ibably powerful. His ulti­mate gambit was to quickly run up behind someone much bigger than he was who might be standing next to a large Mat Room waste basket and fold them in half and put them butt-first into the waste basket. He could do this so fast the other person didn’t have time to put up a struggle. It was all done in the time it would later take Herb to devise 5 roughs for a Riney presen­ta­tion. That’s fast.

Another wondrous moment devised by the Master, was to watch him walk into another art direc­tor’s office, holding an unseen can of rubber cement remover at his side. He would leave a film of the stuff streaking the floor beside the unweary Art Director. Then Herb would mumble about looking for some­thing, and quickly leave the victim’s office. Once out of sight, he would light a match and listen to the scream as the rubber cement remover burned (like gunpowder)…leaving a large puff of smoke and instant fire next to the unsus­pecting victim’s desk.

But, the thing that caught the entire Creative Depart­ment’s notice, was when Herb hung someone out the window by his feet (I told you Herb was strong). No he didn’t’t drop the person and gently pulled him back into the office and that was the final straw.

The next time, Herb came to work, the Creative Staff grabbed him, put him into a rolling office chair and completely immo­bi­lized him by covering him with masking tape.…head to toe and taping him to the rolling chair. They put a card­board Derby hat on his head, taped a cigar into his mouth and wheeled him onto the elevator. Then they pressed every button on every floor.

Need­less to say, that day ended the immortal Herb Briggs pranks.

Within a year or two of the event and moving over to BBD&O, The Master stopped drinking, rode his bicycle to work and was a very warm, friendly person to be around. Over those years, Herb helped me find work at many agen­cies, with a simple phone call. Everyone knew Mr. Briggs.
And, although, this story may seem an embar­rass­ment to my friend, it is meant to honor him. He was a Master. He was the unwit­ting role model for the crazed, beatnik-hippie-pot-smoking-destroy-the-art-room-destroy-Jack Tormey’s antique liquor cabinet looking for another bottle of Inglenook (my event) times that followed.

Mr. Herb Briggs was the ulti­mate, and one of the first of the real Mad Men. I truly miss him.

Todd Miller

The Rise and Fall of A Big Idea

About 40 years ago I designed Canada’s first Inflat­able outdoor board for Pacific Western Airlines. I was the creative director for West­Can’s Calgary office at the time. We needed a Big Idea to support a not so big outdoor media buy (one board each in Calgary, Edmonton and Montréal).I had read about the Inflat­able in AdAge where a fast food chain had attached a huge Hotdog to a super board. The fabri­cator manu­fac­tured hot air balloons, big ones. The first of the three was erected in Calgary at a busy high way junc­tion. The first morning we got tons of Free Air on drive time radio as the news,weather and traffic people had fun taking shots at it with bits of sexual innu­endo here and there. The Calgary Herald ran a story with a full color picture in the morning addi­tion. Things went on like that until it achieved a kind of Mascot status. Then came a harsh fall storm, rain, snow, hail and freezing temper­tures and power outages. Our inflataboard was kept upright by means of a ducted fan and with the power gone the darn thing collapsed giving the media yet another oppor­tu­ni­tyto crack wise. When the fuse­lage re-erected itself that got a mention to. The free PR was imea­sur­able and just goes to prove some Big Ideas are better off dead…than alive .

Jerry Huff, Geezer

Recollections from (Dee) Wayne White

I was art director at Albert Frank-Guenther Law for 20 years (195878) 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 62” 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.

D. Wayne WhiteRegards, 

(Dee) Wayne White 2/1/12

More Goodyear

In 1964 we (Y&R, San Fran­cisco) had Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. John Emmer­ling, Ralph Price and I were assigned the Racing Tire Divi­sion, because it was a small budget. We were in San Angelo, Texas at Goodyear’s Oval Test Track with A.J. Foyt hoping to set an oval track speed record on Goodyear Double Eagle Passenger Tires. In those days, we had news­paper and maga­zine ads at every major paper and maga­zine in the country with one piece of infor­ma­tion missing…The exact speed if the record was made. Foyt succeeded at 204.6 mph, but called from a two way radio when he was out of sight. Soon, a pickup truck left to tow the race-car back, as we were told the car had broken down. Soon it appeared and the Double Eagle Tires were in excel­lent shape, and the record had been set. All the national media folks went imme­di­ately to phones to give their publi­ca­tions the correct speed record, and the next day the ads ran all over the country. The next evening (the day after the record was set) we were told over setup drinks at a San Angelo Bar that we should go out back and look in the pickup truck bed that was covered with a tonneau. We did and there were four Double Eagle Tires in shreds. They had been destroyed at the speed Foyt was driving. It was too late to stop the ads, as they had already run in all the major news­pa­pers. That year Double Eagle Tires blew out all over Texas where people drove their Cadil­lacs and Lincolns at very high speeds on the back roads.

Richard SomersRichurd Somers