president of Papert Koenig Lois Inc.
to the Advertising Writers Association of New York
April 19. 1966
Will you forgive me if I bite the hand that has fed me?
In 1959, the first year of VW advertising which included such ads as "Lemon" and "Think Small, " the advertising fraternity
voted Renault the best campaign of '59. Renault was using multicolor type and balloons and was very French and had everyone
thinking gay, while VW had everyone thinking good.
The judges being advertising men were easy to fake out.
Consumers were tougher. From that time on the only contests I have liked are those I have won, which may be one reason I
don't enter any more. should never be underestimated.
A classic example of this is Bert&---Harry'and Piels Beer----~ a campaign that was anointed in contests many tirhes.
After eight years everyone liked the ads and nobody liked the beer.
I suspect you are thinking it's lousy beer, but in point of fact in blindfold tests Piels rates at the top of the list. People
taste with their minds, not with their mouths.
And Bert & Harry had made Piels into a cartoon beer.
Our job at PKL was to move Piels from Madison Avenu over to Third. May I show you how we set about doing it?
(Show "Breslin" commercials)
You will be delighted to know that Breslin worked worse than Bert & Harry, supporting my contention that Breslin is nothing more nor less than an Irish cartoon.
The point of this is that advertising men delight in faking themselves out, and that~on1y person's opinion that fundamentally matters is the man who puts his money down.
Last year Mr. Reeves asked a hard question, and I haven't heard the final answer yet.
He wanted to know why we don't reward the ads that sell---if that's the name of the game.
He cited the Ajax campaign which had turned the product around and riised it four share points in the tough detergent market---no mean feat.
He also inquired why "Dose she or doesn't she" wasn't recognized by you since a great business had been built with that fundamental idea.
Since Shirley Polykoff is my favorite hiroine, I ditto the question.
The fact is that the various contests proliferating through copy, art, graphics and television are based on personal esthetics rather than any hard-nosed notion of whether the ad did sell something or, more importantly, could sell anything.
At the same time I recall campaigns like Dristan and Anacin, judged by advertising people as the worst campaigns, while the folks at Whitehall and American Home were getting bent over going to the bank.
So we've got to be doing something wrong.
On one hand we have ugly, strident, illiterate ads that sometimes have an annoying virtus: they sell a lot of goods.
On the other hand, we have brave, literate, charming, admirable advertisements that sometimes commit an unpardonable sin: they sell nothing but judges.
Shall I name names?
I would like to show you a 30-second Ting commercial.
It's one of my favorite commercials.
This commercial did well in contests and didn't sell a thing.
I know be cause it was produced by PKL.
Or take the Fresh commercial in this year's finals.
I only pick on DDB because it can afford it.
Compare this Fresh commercial with comparable secret commercials and ask yourself which sellsmore deodorant?
Ask your armpits.
Sort of makes you nervous and sweaty, doesn't it?
Now I am not advocating ugly, strident, illiterate ads. I don't like puffery and I don't like deciet.
I don't like advertising that seeks the lowest common denominator--because that can be common indeed.