The Godfathers of Advertising

THEY were the fathers of modern day advertising. Without them, the history of modern advertising would be incomplete. They played a pivotal role in the building of enduring brands in the marketing and marketing communications firmament. They wrote evergreen copies, drafted winning strategies and gave winsome pieces of advice to clients and helped build global brands. Some of them are no more, some are still living. At the dawn of this millennium, the foremost advertising magazine, Advertising Age inducted them into its hall of fame. Beginning from this edition, Brandwise in a befitting tribute to these brand custodians bring you excerpts from their biographies.

William Bernbach (1911-1982) Doyle Dane Bernbach, New York

During his 33 years with DDB, when the agency achieved $1.2 billion in billings, Bernbach saw it changed the dynamics of advertising and America’s cultural landscape. Krone said at Bernbach’s death, “He elevated advertising to so high art and our jobs to a profession.”

Bernbach’s advocacy of advertising as art was grounded in the radical notion that the public had to be respected. Underlying respect would encourage favourable reactions to intelligent and imaginative advertising. Its leader’s death eventually led to an agency break-down and, in 1986, DDB merged with Keith Reinhard’sNeeham Harper World-wide to become part of the new Omnicon group, which would also include Allen Rosenshine’s BBDO Worldwide.

Nevertheless, because Bernbach’s spirit survives, DDB’s 37-year life span provides a strong foundation for advertising’s continued progress in the 21st Cen-tury. He still inspires many a dream-filled creative journey.

Marion Harper Jr. (1916-1989) Interpublic Group of Cos., New York

Arguably, the agency world’s most innovative empire builder of the 20th century, Harper, a Yale graduate began in McCann-Erickson’s mailroom in 1939, focused on the research department and became copy research manager in ’42.

After serving as assistant to founder and president, H.K. McCann, Harper succeeded McCann. He stepped up motivation research and ad pretesting techniques, began acquiring agencies and by 1961 ‘’turned the ladder horizontal,’’ creating Interpublic Group of cos., turning a conglomerate operating a separate (and conflict free) agency division along with one-step, integrated collateral services. Harper’s reckless spending, however, led Interpublic directors to oust him in 1967. Harper was belatedly added to the Advertising Hall of Fame in 1998.

Leo Burnett (1892-1971) Leo Burnett Co., Chicago

Although rumpled, overweight, Leo Burnett hardly embodied the adman’s image, his copy always impressed. Taught by Theodore MacManus at General Motors Corp with the product’s ‘’inherent drama’’ through warmth, shared emotions and experiences, he left Erwin, Wasey, Chicago in 35 to open an agency that spawned a distinctive “Chicago school,” i.e, sentimental ads drawn from heartland rooted values. He created such evocative icons as the Jolly Green Giant, Pillsbury Doughboy, Charlie the Tuna and Tony the Tiger. His Marlboro campaign, a legendary example of advertising’s power to build a global business, ultimately became a magnet for legislative crackdowns on tobacco marketing.

David Ogilvy (1911) Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York

A self-described ‘’advertising classicist’’ influenced by Claude Hopkins, John Caples and Raymond Rubicam, Ogilvy emphasizes fact-based, long copy to advance Albert Lasker’s salesmanship in print philosophy. Ogilvy’s agency opened in 1948, created clean, powerful ads marked by graceful, sensible copy and a palpable respect for the consumer’s intelligence. His post-war creative bursts memorably served Hathaway shirts, Shell Oil, Sears, KLM, American Express, International Paper, IBM, Schweppes Tonic, Rolls Royce and Pepperidge Farm. Ogilvy pioneered a fee system, as opposed to commissions. During the ‘’creative resolution’’ in 1961 the Copywriters Hall of Fame selected him as one of its first inductees.

Rosser Reeves (1910-1984) Ted Bates &Co., New York

Picking up where the no-nonsense ‘’advertising must sell’’ preaching of John E. Kennedy and Claude Hopkins left off, Reeves’ mid-century Unique Selling Proposition focused on driving home a central, research-based selling point. A copywriter at a Virginia bank, Reeves moved to New York, worked at various agencies and in 1940 joined Bates. Reeves meshed USP and repetition to drive Viceroy, Anacin, Carter’s Little Liver’s Pills, Listerine and Colgate toothpaste sales. In 1952, his sports TV approach adapted help elect Dwight Eisenhower president of the US, thereby changing American political campaigns. His 1961 bestseller, ‘’Reality in Advertising,’’ made Reeves, David Ogilvy’s brother-in-law an advertising standard bearer.

John Wanamaker (1838-1922) Retailer, Philadelphia

Advertising’s highest standards at the beginning of the 20th century were embodied by John WanamakerwhosePhiladelphia and New York department stores pioneered fixed prices and money back guarantees with honest, consistent advertising support. A religious man who refused to advertise on Sundays, he hired the great John E. Power in 1880 as the fulltime (and highly paid) department store copywriter. Their stormy personal relationship succeeded on the professional level because Powers staunchly upheld Wanamaker’s marketing philosophy. Wanamaker also reformed the US postal system while serving as PostmasterGeneral (1889-93) in the administration of President Benjamin Harrison and was president of YMCA from 1870-83. Wanamaker is also remembered in the advertising business for turning a phrase still talk about today: ‘’Half of my advertising is wasted, I don’t just know which half.’’

William Paley (1901-1990) CBS, New York

Although Paley’s CBS trailed David Sarnoff’s NBC Radio Network in entertainment programming, once TV arrived in post war America, Paley was ready. He hired agency executives to set up a CBS programming department that would take away programme development responsibilities from ad agencies. Pale then converted 36 popular CBS radio shows to TV and gave Lucille Ball her ‘’I Love Lucy’’ series. Agency eventually went along with the new dynamic. Paley signed Ball, Jackie Gleason, Jack Benny, Ed Sullivan and Mary Tyler Moore; supported by CBS News Edward R. Murrow, Eric Savareid, William Shirer and Howard K. Smith; and saw CBS – TV acquire its ‘’Tiffany Network’’ luster that came to symbolize TV’s golden age.

Maurice Saatchi (1946-) and Charles Saatchi (1943-) Saatchi and Saatchi, London

With the award-winning London agency they opened in September1970, ‘’the brothers’’ went on a 16-year acquisition spree that created the world’s largest marketing conglomerate and permanently altered and redefined the US advertising landscape. The Saatchi’s unprecedented US invasion and acquisition frenzy, essentially driven by a compulsion to be No. 1, involved dozens of companies, including Backer &Spielvogel, Compton Advertising, Dancer-Fitzeralg Sample and Ted Bates Worldwide as well as research, PR, sales promotion and consultancy firms. And the brothers’ financier officer, Martin Sorrell, would split off in ’86 to CreateWPP Group, acquired J. Walter Thompson Co. in ’87 and created a rival marketing network.

Rosser Reeves (1910-1984) Ted Bates &Co., New York

Picking up where the no-nonsense ‘’advertising must sell’’ preaching of John E. Kennedy and Claude Hopkins left off, Reeves’ mid-century Unique Selling Proposition focused on driving home a central, research-based selling point. A copywriter at a Virginia bank, Reeves moved to New York, worked at various agencies and in 1940 joined Bates. Reeves meshed USP and repetition to drive Viceroy, Anacin, Carter’s Little Liver’s Pills, Listerine and Colgate toothpaste sales. In 1952, his sport TV approach adapted help elect Dwight Eisenhower president of the US, thereby changing American political campaigns.

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