"DDB News" June 1974
The 25th anniversary of establishment issue
|Chief Art Director
INTERVIEWER: Can you remember what was on your minds when you left your jobs to join Berobach and Doyle in their new agency?
ROBINSON: I think we all had, including Bill, the feeling that we were let out of school-you know, no more teachers, no more books-we really felt we had been released from something. Now we could make up our own rules, do what we wanted-atremendous feeling of freedom, just for starters.
GAGE: I'd been working with Bill for a year. Before that I'd been at a agency where I was struggling to do good work but it was not acceptable there. They couldn't sell it. I took every bit of work that I thought was lousy out of my portfolio, and only put in what I thought was good, and I decided if I didn't get another job I was just going to get out of this business. I showed it to Bill, and he loved it and hired me. So later, when I left with him, it was kind of a continuation of that whole process-moving into what I thought I'd like to do.
I don't remember what brought me to Bill. But after we talked, I went home and said to my wife, "I met the man I'm going to go into business with." I'd never met a guy like Bill before. It was a total appreciation of things that I Iiked. I'd been living in some kind of jungle in the other place.
ROBINSON: Well, I remember going into the agency where Bill and Ned worked for an interview. I didn't know much about the business at that time---I'd had one agency job, up in Boston, and now I was back home in New York. An employment agency sent me out for this interview, and I remember walking down the hall and seeing some of Bill's ads up on the wall---some of his Van Heusen shirt ads.
I can remember one very distinctly: it had a guy hanging out of a window---it's almost laughable now, but I think you'll understand why it hit me---and an iceman with a load of shirts on an ice wagon. The headline was "Any ice today, mister?" And I thought, "Wow! That's really original thinking." And believe me, it was.
INTERVIEWER: I don't get it.
ROBINSON: The shirts were so cool. Instead of ice, there were shirts on the wagon. That was such a breath of fresh air in the general advertising of the time. The idea of one image replacing the other. And that fresh, almost brazen, very colloquial headl ine. It was really so surprising, such fun, and so free.
INTERVIEWER: Did you have any idea that this kind of free thing would change advertising so much?
ROBINSON: Absolutely not. Maybe Bob did.
GAGE: No. I wasn't thinking in terms of 25 years hence. Actually, for the last 25 years it's been doing the next ad. You just keep being involved in the job you're doing, and it keeps growing. I wasn't thinking in terms of taking over the world---I really wasn't.