Young & Rubicam, Inc. Vice-President, Associate Creative Director(1970)
chuukyuu I wonder if you were trying to pun the phrase "Give a damn" on "Give a dime."
Mr.Elgort Definitely not. For one thing I hate puns.
And for another, we really weren't trying to raise any money with this campaign.
We were just looking for a very strong way to ask people to care.
We also wanted a line that was part of the language. And since we were angry, we wanted something with a little profanity in it. You might find this hard to believe, but at the time, we wondered if the word "damn" was strong enough.
chuukyuu Now, let's change the subject. What is your position at Young & Rubicam?
Mr.Elgort I am an Associate Creative Director and Vice President. But I still like to write when I can.
You don't get the same kick out of supervising somebody else's work as you do writing your own ads and commercials.
chuukyuu When and why did you join the agency?
Mr.Elgort I came to Young & Rubicam in 1966. I had always wanted to get a job at Y & R because it's one of the few big agencies in New York City that appreciates good creative work. Like a lot of people in the business, I was particularly impressed by their work on Eastern Airlines.
chuukyuu What accounts do you handle now?
Mr.Elgort Right now, Sanka Coffee, New York Telephone, Norton Simon, Inc. and the New York Urban Coalition. In the past, I've worked on Eastern Airlines, Remington Electric Shavers, Breck and a number of new products.
chuukyuu When did you start writing copy?
Mr.Elgort In 1959.
chuukyuu What motivated you to pursue this career?
Mr.Elgort You might say I backed into the business. I graduated college with a B.A. in history and a talent for drawing.
So I got a job in the Art Department at Ted Bates.
Those were the days when they were doing the hammers in the head for Anacin and the gardol shield for Colgate and beakers filled with mucous for Super Anahist and things you wouldn't even believe for Preparation H. And they were always on the lookout for new selling ideas. So I worked up a few storyboards of my own and took them into the Creative Director's office.
Even though my ideas were pretty rough, he must have liked them. Because the next thing I knew 1 was in the Copy Department.
And although I didn't stay at Bates long, I've been writing copy ever since.
chuukyuu What kind of training did you get to be a copywriter?
Mr.Elgort I had no formal training. I learned mostly by writing. And by studying ads and commercials that were well written. I also learned by working wirh good people. I can think of a couple of Supervisors, writers and art directors who taught me a lot about copywriting.
chuukyuu Where and when were you born?
Mr.Elgort I was born in New York City on March 25, 1935.
chuukyuu What was your father doing then?
Mr.Elgort My father owned a bar around the corner from the old Madison Square Garden. A lot of his cutomers were ex-fighters like Jack Dempsey, Barney Ross and a number of the old New York Rangers. He also got a lot of newspapermen liek Walter Winchell, of the old Daily Mirror. H. Allen Smith of the New York Sun and Damon Runyon.
In fact, my father claims that Runyon used him as the model for one of his Broadway characters, Harry the Horse.
chuukyuu When you were small, were you fond of writing?
Mr.Elgort Not really. I did very little writing before I got into the business.
chuukyuu In those days, what were your hobbies?
Mr.Elgort I loved to draw and had some talent for it. I also liked music and reading, but my big interest was sports.
chuukyuu What kind of sports?
Mr.Elgort Mostly baseball, softball and basketball. In those days I played for a neighborhood team called the Royals. A few of our guys were so good, they later signed contracts to play minor league baseball.
chuukyuu What position did you play?
Mr.Elgort The outfield. I had hopes of succeeding Joe Dimaggio as the center fielder for the Yankees. But when Mantle came along, I retired.