Benton & Bowles, Inc.
Executive Vice-President, Director of Creative Services
Interviewed in 1969
chuukyuu When did you come to Benton & Bowles from Young & Rubicam?
Mr.Hampel I came to B & B July 7, 1969, and I had been at Y & R for 12 years before that.
chuukyuu Last year, when I met you at Y & R, you said that people left the agency. May we ask why you left there?
Mr.Hampel Yes, that's a very good Question. I was offered a bigger opportunity here to do more things than I was able to do at Young & Rubicam. Over there, I was the Copy Chief and that took care of all the writing, all the copy. I was in charge of the department. But over here, I'm the Creative Director and that includes art and copy and production and all the phases of creative and so I have a bigger job here with a bigger title and more money, and more stock and so everything together made it very inviting for me to come here. It may have taken me longer to get to this position at Y & R. I didn't want to wait that long, you
chuukyuu Well, speaking of the stocks that you mentioned, do you buy these stocks or are they given to you?
Mr.Hampel No, I was invited to buy these. But you buy them at a good price and the hope of course, is that while you are here, you will help make the stock go up. The company will prosper with my addition here hopefully and I will be able to contribute to making the stock rise in valud.
chuukyuu Are you able to buy additional stock?
Mr.Hampel Yes, I'll be offered more stock as time goes by. But I would have never left for money or stock alone. It's the job opportunity. You see, I have a chance here to change this agency. This agency was no up to Young & Rubicam creatively, and they came to me, brought me here, so that I could change it and try to make it as good as Young & Rubicam, perhaps. I liked idea of trying to change this place and making it better. That's the main reason.
chuukyuu Did you find any difference III the creative work method between Young & Rubicam and Benton & Bowles? Any difference in the agency atmosphere?
Mr.Hampel Yes, I found a vast difference and I have addressed myself In the first three months of my job here to changing the ways more to the way they were over there. I liked what I had going there, which I helped institute, and I brought that system with me here. It has to do with many layers less of supervision. I found that this place had far too many layers of supervision and it was as difficult to get advertising out of this agency as it is sometimes to get it through the many client levels. You had to take it from one supervisor to another supervisor to another supervisor and all these things took a toll and the the work suffered. Everybody has something to say and they pick and the work wears away and it is very demoralizing for the writers, too.
Another thing I thought needed fixing was a lack of Quality control. There was laxity in letting certain work get out -that is laxity according to my standards. I suppose everybody has different standards. I am very rarely satisfied with the work. I was this way at Young & Rubicam too. I know even what is considered good by most could be made even better. And this is what I try to instill in my people-not to be easily satisfied.
I wish I could do over all the stuff I ever worked on.
Getting back to the question. There was some excellent work being done at Benton & Bowles when I got there. It was very successful too -sold a lot of products. My objective was not to change the main ideas behind this successful work, but to make it even better in its execution.
chuukyuu Do you find more freedom than when you were at Young & Rubicam?
Mr.Hampel More freedom here? Yes, I tell you, I have more freedom here, because I am the the number one man. I report only to the president. Over there, it was a little more involved. I was one of about three men, and I didn't have as much control. I have more comrol over here to do what I want, you know.
chuukyuu Well, in other words. you can create a free atmosphere by which you can move around.
Mr.Hampel Flexibility is the key word here. We try to take advantage of each person's talents. So instead of a rigid group system-six small agencies within an agency, (which was the system I inherited here at B & B), we now have people working on various accounts under several Associate Creative Directors.
And you don't need a fancy title to be the creative head of a piece of business. Many of our writers and art directors work by themselves on accounts and report directly to me-no middle men.
In my experience, creative people thrive with a minimum of supervision, providing they have good leadership at the top. I guess this is one of the reasons for the success of the creative boutiques so popular today. They run freely and flexibly without the encumbrances of a rigid system.
At no time does any creative person report to more than two levels at B & B and many reports to just one. This is rare for an agency our size but it makes the environment here as free and conducive to creativity as it is in the small boutiques I mentioned.
So, what we have at B & B is the muscle and clout of a large agency with its attendant services like media, marketing, research, etc., plus the creativity of a small small shop. And that's a pretty good combination.
chuukyuu Are you the only one Creative Director here?
Mr.Hampel Yes, I am. There are six Associate Creative Directors. I don't know if we are going to keep that many, maybe less, maybe more.
chuukyuu How many people work for this company in New York?
Mr.Hampel About 850 people. We're about the 12th largest agency in the country.
chuukyuu Did you bring any people with you from Y & R?
Mr.Hampel Yes, some have joined me over here. They came because they liked working with me and they saw an opportunity to get in on the beginning of a change. They welcomed the opportunity of building something new. I suppose anybody who works at a place as long as I did at Y & R, builds up a following-people who will follow him wherever he goes in the business. I am happy to have these people at Benton & Bowles because I know their work and it is very good.