(Vice-President, Copy Supervisor, Doyle Dane Bernbach Inc.)
Chuukyuu When and through ehat process did you come to join Doyle Dane Bernbach? Did you approach the agency or did someone in the agency invite you to come？ Did anyone in the agency interview you?
Mr.Lee I was originally an electrical engineer, I got my engineering degree from Colombia University. But after working in the field for several years, I decided I was not going to be happy spending my life as an engineer. So, I decided to become a writer. The first thing I did was to become a technical writer. For several years I wrote instruction manuals that go along with electric equipment such as radar sets and so on.
But at the time I was saving up my money in order to be able to quit working altogether and be a freelance writer, which I eventually did. I was a freelance writer for about two and half years. But in two and half years I earned about 500 dollars. So Iwent broke, I had to start working for a living again.
Around that time DDB, for the first time in it's history, advertised for junior copywriters. In their ad they said "the junior copywriters we are looking for many not even be working for an advertising agency, They may only be working for a department store, writing copy for department store ads."
So I sent them a letter saying "I am not even working for a department store, would you being interested in me?" And I got a letter back saying "Well, we might be, but we'd have to see some samples of ads." That was how I got my job.I made up my own ads on accounts that I selected. And Ron Rosenfeld saw them and liked them. And he recommended me to Phyllis Robinson who was the copy chief then.
Now it was a very unusual thing at that time. Only DDB would have cinsidered hiring an engineer with no experience whatever in the advertising business. But they went by what I had on the page. That was the deciding factor. It was a very sensible and r
logical thing to do. They thought I had writing ability, so-why not? But most agencies would not have done it then.
Chuukyuu What your present position in DDB? How many people are working under you? What accounta do you handle yourself or actually work on? And for what accounts are you responsible?
Mr.Lee My present position is vice preident and copy group supervisor. I have two writers working for me at the moment. My accounts are the Accutron watch, Bankers' Trust and Hayden, Stone Stockbrokers. I am resp0nsible for all work done on three accounts. I spend more of my time being a copywriter than being a supervisor. At DDB creative people don't gradually retire into supervision. All supervisors are player-manageras.
Chuukyuu Is DDB a good place for copywriter? If so, why?
Mr.Lee Because you are encouraged to do the very best work that you are capable of. People here do not try to over-supervise or over-criticize. They try to keep you uninhibited. This is essential. An inhibited writer is a hack. An uninhibited writer may be a hack too, of course. But to get hack to the question.
In most other agencies, if a client just raises his eyebrow over something, everybody gets very frightened and they come running back to the copywriter and art director asking foe changes. I believe this is what happens, anyway. I've never worked for any other agency. It could happen here too, by the way, It must at times be very tempting to an account man to agree to make changes in ask at the reqest of the clients, even when he knows the changes would not be improvements. It's a tough job, arguing with the "customer." So a copywriter's job is not necessarily over when he's finished writing the ad. He many have to help the account man sell the ad to the client.
Chuukyuu Do you think that a copywriter, no matter how talented he may be, cannot fully express his talent if he happens to be in an agency with anundesirable atomosphere? Do you know of any such cases？
Mr.Lee Sure. It's the rule rather than the exception. Advertising is the meeting ground of bisiness and art. And these two elements don't work well together. It takes an extra ordu\inary atomosphere to get them to cooperats. DDB is one of the few places to have it.