From Hardware To Adware The Path That I Followed The People Who Lit The Way I grew up the son of a retail merchant family One of my earliest memories is running around my Dad s hardware store City Line Hardware in the Bronx When I was five he bought another store Ross Hardware in North Tarrytown NY now Sleepy Hollow My first job was sweeping floors I was about 8 It was an old blacksmith shop dating back to the 1800s and counted the Rockefellers General Motors and the school systems as customers At 14 I went to military school New York Military Academy I still sir and ma am everyone I think their advertising caught my father s attention and I guess it seemed a good idea to my parents having just attended my 50th class reunion my position has mellowed and I finally agree Way before military school in fifth and sixth grades I loved being with my Dad s customers helping make deliveries selling on the floor and advertising doing the small space ads in The Tarrytown Daily News I can t tell you why but I did Both advertising and retail were somehow in my DNA Getting out of college I chose advertising to start I ve been fortunate I ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most creative and influential people in marketing and advertising which assuming you have a great product needs great creative to make sure people know about it and salivate for it marketing is Pavlovian I started at Scali McCabe Sloves I recall I was their sixth employee A lot more joined and they were among the best in advertising It would take pages to tell you about them all and how all of them impacted on me In the creative department John Danza Bob Wilvers Joe Schindelman Tom Nathan Ray Myers Tom Thomas Jim Perretti who I also worked with at Della Femina and those were just at the tip of my tongue Scali s creativity wasn t just in the creative department it permeated every department There were great account service people Paul Lennett Jerry Sherman Alan Pesky one of the founders and in finance and research Len Hultgren also a founder There was Marvin Sloves its president and an account guy I don t think I could ever say enough about Marvin but that at 21 or so and just out of school he basically walked on water to me That creativity also drew great clients
Volvo was my first experience in advertising both in media I had become the agency s media supervisor in 70 and account service My first client Volvo s head of marketing then boss Jim LaMarre who eventually became my good friend also taught me how to get the best creative from the toughest creative teams There were people like Tom Nathan a fantastic writer whom I met when I was barely out of the mailroom into media and who was always there for me when needed I always wanted to be a copywriter but Ed McCabe had no room for trainees I can t write about Ed as so many others have I d be embarrassed by not measuring up and Ed would probably track me down to tell me what s wrong with what I ve written Tom got me the interview at Della Femina Travisano Partners Tom was and still is a great creative talent and I am fortunate to have him as a friend Scali was the first four years of my life in advertising set the stage for the rest of my life and became the litmus test for what good agencies and great advertising should be about Scali was the place to be in the late 60s and early 70s Advertising agencies were still a great place to work at the time and drew really smart people before they began opting for finance Ads were still laid out by hand type cut by hand copy written or typed And writers and art directors at least the ones I was privileged to work with never insulted the intelligence of the consumer My good fortune in advertising didn t stop at Scali Our client Volvo hired me as an ad manager after in a fit I decided I didn t want to be an account guy and went to produce radio commercials including for Volvo The client decided to haul me back from this impulsive decision he couldn t help with the other a very short lived marriage at barely 23 and I got to work with the man who became a life long friend until his passing in 2012 and was the cornerstone client of three agencies that broke the WASP tradition of boring advertising Papert Koenig Lois Carl Ally and of course Scali Later I worked at Della Femina Travisano Partners and Rosenfeld Sirowitz Lawson Along the way I had a short stop with Dan Aron of NoSoap Radio now NoSoap Productions where we did radio for Phil Geer on Foster Grant Volvo and created the radio spots for the Rolling Stones movie Gimme Shelter Dan did much more and I worked with him just a couple of years ago on radio for Great Value sugar free powdered soft drinks cereals and hot beverages Dan s a special person A Harvard grad
who went to work for rock radio WABC and then took this whacked out group of music people and turned it into one of the most creative radio and music production houses in advertising He was a media sales person at ABC handled my business and when I put Volvo into rock radio and the client went ballistic he was a QXR guy and the buyers of Volvo were beginning to roll their own he let me gracefully exit a media buy not that I didn t fight for what I believed was right Right after the first client order came I demanded a day in court I can only imagine the hooting and hollering behind my back knowing the reputation of the Volvo marketing head I made my four foam board presentation of why Volvo should be on rock stations My client said he d get back with five slides why they shouldn t ha and now kid go kill the schedule I was 23 and literally had no fear of anyone or thing can t say that about the rest of the agency then I worked it out with Dan we became friends as I did with Jim LaMarre of Volvo The client who never changed his radio dial from 105 9 had no idea I just moved from the AM rock stations to WNEW FM WPLJ FM WCBS FM and Volvo NY sales were up When Dan saw me climbing walls as an account guy a couple of weeks into the new marriage which also had me bouncing off walls he brought me into his studios on Patchin Place in the West Village a few blocks from my apartment near St Marks Place Dan taught me a lot about the time horizon of sales and relationship building Finally as I migrated to being a client not counting the time spent on Volvo as it was still the same family it didn t get much better than working with DDB and the likes of Helmut Krone Jack Mariucci Bob Gage Jack Dillon Phyllis Robinson Stu Hyatt Paul Margulies or directors like Steve Horn and producers like Jane Leipshutz and Joe Scibetta Even the less famous DDB creatives were famously great There was this one guy who I am sure to this day has no idea who I am but created one of the best sunglass campaigns ever as in ever to this day for Polaroid Sunglasses He swept into a briefing in John Fenyo s a DDB account person office wearing a long duster looked at me nodded his head when I sort of told him what we had that was important and what I wanted to say swept out and swept back in a few days later after hiring one of the best graphic people this side of Keith Haring to graphically show our superiority The designer illustrator was Antonio Lopez who first became famous for making a meal out of Bloomingdale s windows and the DDB art director was Howie I wish I
could remember his last name Really It s one of those disconnects that has bothered me for years He got one of the hottest illustrators in NY to work on this tiny little business What s really great is that Howie got in a heart beat the message that we were all about fashion and function and knew how to communicate it Pure DDB My learning experience is not just about the DDB years It s also about all the brilliant creative people who I worked with and learned from at Della Femina and at Rosenfeld Neil Drossman Dick Raboy Bob Kuperman Len Sirowitz Ron Rosenfeld Kay Kavanagh Mark Yustein John Russo Bill Kamp Ron Travisano who had a heart even bigger than his talent It s funny how certain things stand out in memory I think the best complements I could ever have gotten came while at Della Femina Somehow I got stuck filling in on Meow Mix for a couple of weeks as an AE I was manhandling a way late mechanical through final check off There were about 6 or 7 people milling around Kuperman who was sitting on his couch surrounded by all sorts of Mickey Mouse cels and stuff I warned you that certain things stand out and the mechanical had every approval and I think Kuperman s as well This was one of those AE moments that at 24 you really do not want to have Kuperman handed me the mechanical and I was being dismissed as account guys are when I looked at him and asked if he wanted the ad to go out with a widow If you don t know what a widow is go back to square one do not collect 200 It was pretty quiet for a few seconds Bob gave the mechanical back to some art director waited a minute or so it seemed looked up at me and said you ve got a good eye I still remember The other was Neil Drossman telling me I should get out of account service and work at becoming a copywriter I just never had the balls which is a great regret Anyway I just know I left out way too many of the people who were great teachers and influencers for me But to all of you named and unnamed if you ever stumble upon this page thank you all for having taught me about how to communicate If the paragraph ended on communicate that s a widow
The buttons below will take you to some early places along my business journey as well as some ads case studies and below the line programs that I ve been responsible for and kept with me through my career I am a real pack rat even have black plates from the old 4 c printing process BD before digital that were strategically correct motivating whether to consumers or business customers gave information and never condescended I also kept an article from 1974 showing the One Show award winners many of whom I worked with from Scali and Della Femina In essence they were the writers and art directors who helped shape me as an account guy and eventual client to understand what goes into the crafting of good advertising If you take the time to look though the ads now you ll see what I m talking about Between learning about great advertising from masters and growing up in a retail merchant family hardware housewares lawn garden learning from my Dad who was a master at delivering great customer service with terrific merchandising sense my Mom was no slouch either I was given a great foundation in what it takes to get products to market and into the hands of consumers And they are lessons I ve never forgotten
NYC 1968 Scali, McCabe, Sloves media department. Hard to believe that less than a year ago, I was hired by Len Hultgren, one of the five partners of Scali. Mike Ephron had became my boss. I probably learned more about the importance of story-telling in stand-up presentations from him than anyone else. I guess that's because he once worked for David Merrick and he had the ability to make even a reach & frequency deck as interesting as was making a serial killer into a muscial like Sweeny Todd. Later, since Ed McCabe wanted no part of training a budding copywriter that would keep breaking into his liquor cabinet to leave writing samples, I was moved into account work on Volvo, and then the rest becomes stories over drinks. I promise you, a lot are fun... all are true, including the story that took place at Luchow's, and my memory is still good.
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