Doyle Dane Bernbach inc. Vice-president, Copy Supervisor
chuukyuu In case the opinions of you two split, how would you solve the problem?
Protas One of us waits out the other. If there's a real split in opinion, we let it sit for a couple of days. Either the art director will begin to understand what I see in it or I'll begin to understand what he doesn't. Occasionally when you come up against an insuperable, difference and you really are at a stand-off, you ask somebody else's opinion, but there I think you have to be careful whom you ask. I'm not about to take a census of the secretaries but a Bob Levenson or a Leon Meadow would be another matter. But I've never reached a breaking point with an art director. I just find that the challenge of the job and the problem you have to solve in the ad are a lot more important than the challenge of the personality. There really wasn't a personality problem, never while I was on Ohrbach's.
chuukyuu What is the reason you've stayed so long at DDB?
Protas Well, obviously it's because I like working here; I've been very happy. You've heard it from other copywriters: the freedom to think, to be fresh, to be original, to be yourself as long as you never forget that the main purpose of an ad is to sell. Second of all, over and over again as writers have left and gone off to other agencies, you hear, perhaps not honor stories but certainly sad stories of the difference in'working conditions.
chuukyuu During your long association with DDB, you must have seen a lot of copywriters come and go. Among those writers, is there anyone that left you a strong impression?
Protas One of the writers whom I remember the best and have the greatest reipect for is Ron Rosenfeld. I miss him as a friend, follow him as a writer, I'm proud and fond of him. Bob Levenson and Leon Meadow fill out my favorite triumvirate.
chuukyuu Here, we would like you to tell us about your background up to the time you joined DDB.
Protas I remember one Christmas I had finished Graduate School; I had a Master's Degree in English and I thought I would like to write.
I came back to New York and went around to magazines with my Master's Degree in my hand and found that with luck I could get a job at $ 25 a week doing research on a magazine. It was during the holidays, and being female, I decided to do what females do when they feel blue.
I'd buy something to cheer myself up. I happened to be near Macy's, I went in, and bumped into a booth they'd set up to recruit temporary help for Christmas. Well, I wouldn't mind working for Macy's just for Christmas, but could I do something where I could write? They sent me up to the advertising department and I was hired to file proofs.
From time to time I wrote little bits on housewares and turned them in and they decided to give me a chance as a copywriter. And that's where I learned abont research. It was close to Passover, a Jewish holiday, and the Jews, of course, do not eat bacon or ham---not where the Lord can see them, at any rate. Well, we were going to advertise a carving knife on a page which sold Passover items, and I did my research and figured out how you sell a carving knife and got all enthusiastic over the things you could carve with this wonderful knife for Passover and in the middle of the list was the word "ham". And the next thing I knew, the copy chief was roaring "Protas, come in here! " It was an early lesson in over-enthusiasm and sloppy thinking. Anyway, after 5 years at Macy's, in which I specialized in furniture and some fashion, I decided it was time to move on. I remember when I first got to Doyle Dane Bernbach, we were on the top floor of a building on Madison Avenue, squeezed, as a matter of fact, into the penthouse, and Ned Doyle looked at me and said, "Kid, can you work hanging from. the chandeliers?"