He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 25, 1932, and has lived in New York for 33 years. He lives with his wife and two children in a Manhattan apartment over-looking the Hudson River.
Now he works vigorously as artist-superviser at Doyle Dane Bernbach Advertising Agency.
He majored in advertising design at Pratt Institute, and soon after graduation in 1953, entered L. W. Frohlich, a pharmaceutical advertising agency. He was there for six months, and was drafted to the Army. Two years later, after having been discharged from the service, he entered Grey Advertising on the NBC account. About one year and a half later, he left there and worked for the late Bill Golden at the CBS.
In 1957 he was offered a job to head up the art de- partment of a new television company, the NTA Television Network. In connection with the work, he received many awards from the Art Directors Club of New York, the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Type Directors Club.
When, in 1959, NTA decided to move California, he stayed in New York. He applied for position at Doyle Dane Bernbach, one of the best advertising agencies in the world, and was hired.
Len was chosen as "The Number One Art Director in America" in 1968 and 1970.
In 1985 he wes appointed "Hall of Fame" by NY Art Director Club.
"My Graphic Concept"
in Zurich 1967 Spring
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you in Zurich today. I'd like to begin my talk by criticizing, if I may, the very title given to this talk --"The Graphic Concept". It is not the graphic concept we must look at all. It is the idea of an ad that I will discuss. I'm sure many of you know. That's the important part.
People remember ideas. It's the graphics and the copy that become the tools to express the idea. Now that I've changed the topic of my talk, let me tell you how we do this at Doyle Dane Bernbach. Let me tell you how DDB has become s o successful today.
At the last count the agency was billing over 200 million dollars a year. Eighteen years ago(1949) Bill Bernbach, Ned Doyle, and Maxwell Dane put together a new kind of advertising agency. The kind of agency that believed in its ability, stuck to their convictions and convinced their clients that they knew more about how to advertise their clients' product than the client himself did.
One of the secrets of our success is knowing how to get into the hearts and the minds and ultimately the pocketbooks of the reader. We've learned what makes the reader stop and look at our page and then remember what we have to tell them. We've learned that one of the greatest wastes in America today is money spent on ineffective advertising. People pass by ads in Life Magazine at $50,000 a clip.
That's for the space alone.
We've also learned that we must respect the reader and appeal to him on a rather high level of intelligence: Never talking down to him. A perfect example of this is the tremendous success of the Volkswagen campaign.
Right from the start, while the other agencies were trying to appeal to what they considered the lowest common denominator, DDB said--treat them as an equal.
fender came off a '58.
The blue hood came off a '59.
The beige fender came off a '64.
The turquoise door came off a '62.
Most VW parts are interchangeable from one year to the next.
That's why parts are so easy to get.
At DDB we insist upon truthful and believableadvertising . We strive for ads that people relate to, that come from real life. This can only be achieved by ideas not graphic designs and tricks. I mention this because I very often see examples of European agencies work in European Annuals. To me it represents work that is not better than the work done in the art schools in the United States. It is purely an accumulation of graphic ticks that have nothing to do with selling ideas.
I know that the heritage of advertising in Europe comes from designing colorful posters. There is very little relationship, however, between these posters and the ads that skillfully define advantages of a product and move the public to buy it. There are some exceptions but general opinion of the work I see in Europe is that you let the graphics get in the way of the ideas. You show little respect for words. You don't know how to combine the skills of both in a single ad.
You think an idea is a clever symbol. People, however, don't relate to this. You show little warmth or emotion. This is not communication. This is not advertising. If you do this, you are not advertising men; you are designers. You are page decorators. You must learn to communicate with people on their terms, not yours. You must learn to feel what people feel. You must not look down on trends of the times. You must flow with it, and even try to stay a drop ahead of it. What hurts your work the most I'm told is that you think of yourselves as being so different from the people who read your ads. Maybe you think you're above them. Look for the similarities in yourselves and the people who read your ads and then may be you'll begin to communicate. The people who do the best work in the U.S. are not the brilliant philosophers you may think they are. But rather they are ordinary intelligent people who have the instinct for seeing into the hearts and minds of other ordinary intelligent people. The best ideas in the world are not full twists away from reality. They are half twists from premises that all people are familiar with.
When you do come up with the idea, good design should still be present in good advertising, the artistry is important, but don't let it dominate. The art director who preoccupies himself with design misses the essence of ad-making completely. And the art director who takes a fine idea and designs it into oblivion commits even a bigger crime.