Interview with Mrs. Paula Green

(DDB, Vice President, Management Creative Supervisor)

Interviewed in 1968-1969

In Ad Age:
DDB Has Three of Ten Best Ads Ever

Advertising Age, for its Bicentennial issue, asked 97 advertising professionals to name "the best ads or ad campaigns that you've ever seen heard."
Three of the 10 campaigns chosen as best ever were created by DDB, more than any other agency produced.

from "DDB NEWS" July 1976

chuukyuu When,why and how did you come to DDB?

Mrs. Green I had been working at an agency and I had taken the summer off to join my husband in a job at children's camp. He had been working very hard. He had just finished school again. And the agency I had worked with would not give me a leave of absence. So I had had no job when I came back. At that point I called Ned Doyle. Actually I had known him at Grey Advertising, where he had originally been. I had known all these people and I had yearned to come work for them wears before. And he had suggested "You know our Mrs. Robison? Why don’t you see her?” So I had got my book together and I met Mrs. Robinson. And we strucked it off very well and she hired me. I was hired originally to work as a writer for the then Acrilan account which was a part of the Chemstrand account.
DDB was about twenty million dollars and I was probably one of 8 or 9 writers, I guess. We were not too many of us. And we were basically on two floors, art and copy on 25 and administration on 26. That's the size we are now in copy alone.

Avis is only No.2
in rent a cars.
So why go with us?

We try harder.
(When you're not the biggest,you have to.)
We just can't afford dirty ashtrays. Or half-empty gas tanks. Or worn wipers. Or unwashed cars. Or low tires. Or anything less than seat-adjusters that adjust. Heaters that heat. Defrosters that defrost.
Obviously,the thing we try hardest for is just to be nice. To start you out right with a new car,like a lively,super-torque Ford,and a pleasant smile. To know,say,where you get a good pastrami sandwich in Duluth.
Because we can't afford to take you for granted.
Go with us next time.
The line at our counter is shorter.

C/W Paula Green
A/D Helmut Krone
"The New Yorker" 1963.05.18

chuukyuu When was it?

Mrs. Green 1956. And one of the nicest thing happened just when I was hired to come to work. I was joining them around Christmas. They always have an annual Christmas party. Mrs.Robinson, she was a copy chief at the time, called me and said "Look Paula. You are going to come to work for us, any way. Come to the party. So you can meet everybody before you start." So I started on a very happy, generous note, which by the way, I think has been true for the twelve years I have been here.

chuukyuu How many people were there when you came to DDB?

Mrs. Green I don't know. I think the Christmas party had 200 people something like that. I mean everybody, clerk, secretaries, writers, art directors, bullpen, account executives, the entire agency consisted of about 200 people.

chuukyuuYour career history please. What motivated you to be a copywriter?

Mrs. Green I was born in Los Angeles and went to school in California. When I through my mother said one day after having back from a trip to New York, "Why don't you go to New York, Paula?" I asked "What should I go to New York for?” She answered "I think you'd like it."

So I came to New York and I fell madly in love with New York.
I had a few friends that I had met on the coast, men from New York. I was talking one of them and he said "Why don't you get a job in advertising agency?” I thought that it was a nice idea
What I did do was to get a job as secretary to a promotion director of a magazine. He was a great fellow. He was a marvelous teacher a very bright man with a great knowledge of graphics and writing.

It was a very small operation but we did everything, and he let me do writing, layout. This was a magazine for men called TRUE Magazine which has been quite successful. He taught me all along the line. He let me help him writing letter, he helped me learn how to do these things mostly by example and by saying " Write this" and showing me whether it was right,
All my life I had been involved in writing of one sort another. Just become I like to write. I had been writing in elementary school, junior high school, in little newspapers and putting on programs. It became a part of me but I never thought of it. Certainly not in connection with advertising because I did not know anybody doing that sort of thing in Los Angeles. So that not really until I came to New York did my direction get into the merchandising and sales promotion end of magazine work.
And when he left, I was promoted to be a promotion director, which permitted me to meet agency people who were in the agency called me and said "I think there is a jobber here for you. Come on over." So he introduced me to the people at Gray Advertising. And I went to work there n the sales promotion department. So I started writing sales promotion for an enormous list of accounts.
I left them after I married and had my child. I left them just before my baby was born. But I did some freelance for them all the time my child was very small. And it gave the extra miney we needed at the time.
My husband decided to go back to school and I went back working.

If you find a
cigarette butt in an
Avid car,complain.
It's for our own good.

We need your help to get ahead.
Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars.So we have to try harder.
Even if it's only a marked-up map in the glove compartment or you waited longer than you felt you should,please don't shrug it off.
Bug us.
Our people will understand. They've been briefed.
They know we can't afford to hand you anything less than a new car like a lively,super-torque Ford.And it's got to be immaculate,inside and out.
Otherwise,make a noise.
A Mr.Meadow of New York did.
He searched and came up with a gum wrapper.

C/W Paula Green
A/D Helmut Krone
"The New Yorker" 1963.06.15

Mrs.Green My husband decided to go back to school and I went back to work. He went back to engineering school when I went back working for a magazinein the promotion department of SEVENTEEN magazine, where eventually I became the promotinal manager handling and writing pamphlets and ads.

I left them the job was no longer fulfilling . And a friend of mine who was working in an agency said "Won't you come over and talk to people. We have very nice work. "That was the Gumbinner. And they were very nice and hired me.

At the agency I had been doing account work as an assistant account executive. At the particular agency, I did copy contact, account work, a little copy that was not much like publicity, the thing that clinents really like.

So when I really came to DDB, I really was not even sure that I wanted to be a writer, I thought maybe I would be an account person becouse at that time we did not have any account women. But they were think not interested in me the way. Mr,Doyle soon said "I think you realIam in it.ly should look into the copy part."

That was how I got in this business. I worked in magazines and agencies for some years.

chuukyuu Why do you pursue it?

Mrs.Green I pursue it because I like it. It is the most rewarding of the numbers of the thing that I can do. At this point with the background and experience I have it brings me into direct and interesting contact with so many facts of just plain life and business. Through the creative part of it I am involved in the most alive and interesting thing in the art world today; in graphics, in film, in music, in acting, in the talent that is engaged in all sorts of activities, the best actors, actresses around, the best cameramen, the best directors.
Also because it is creative for the purpose of selling. I'm involved in the most exciting thing that happen in business. You deal with people who run large corporations you speak to them bout distribution in marking and new ideas and heeds in the marketing area. So that you get involved both your business inteitions and your artistic intuitions all at one time. And I do not know any other job that puts me in touch with so many facts of American life both in the artistic and pursuasion end and economic end of it. That is why I am in it.

chuukyuu How do you feel the atmosphere of DDB?

Mrs.Green I think it is one of the best atmospheres you probably can find. Basically because they all from the top had a philosophy of openmindedness and nouurishment of creative activity and the diverse ideas. They have nourished and encouraged you to be as good creatively as you can.

There has never been a dictum sating "You must write this way because I would write it this way." but rather "What can you do that will best fulfill problem?" They have encouraged diversity. They have encouraged you to be as good as you can be. And I think that is rare thing. And you have never been penalized because a client did not like it.

It is both reward and responsibility.
It is a very unique place because the people who run this place are unique. Atmosphere dose not percolate from bottom up. It comes from the top down. And you can be only as good as the people top let you be. And I think they let you be very good indeed.

As far as other agencies. I have worked a couple of other agencies; certainly this is the best. And from what I hear from outside it continues to be the openest and the most encouraging, even though they have grown very big. And generally speaking, growth tends to make things less possible.

I have not found that to be the case here.

Avis can't afford
television commercials.
Aren't you glad?

Do you know what it costs to make a television commercial?
About $15,000.
Of course,that includes highway,western sky,car,pretty girls and a catchy jingle to delight the hearts of music lovers.And then you still have to pay for putting it on the air.
Avis hasn't got that kind of money.
We're only No.2 in rent a cars.
What we do have is plenty of decent cars like lively, super-tongue Fords.Plenty of counter with girls behind them who don't think it's corny to be polite.
We have everything but television commercials.
But business is getting better.
Maybe soon,you won't be so lucky.

C/W Paula Green
A/D Helmut Krone
"The New Yorker" 1964.02.07

chuukyuu Do you think talented writers can do a good job regardless what the agency is with?

Mrs.Green No. I do not think at talented writer can do a good job regardless of the agency.
I think he can do as good a job as they allow him to do.
He may fulfill their requirements but he is not doing perhaps the best job that he can do. It is very frustrating to know you can do something and not be allowed to do it because either of client pressures or agency pressures.
And that is why many times when hiring people, we ask them to a how us what they wanted to do but was not accepted. Because then we can tell how far had they thought and how brilliantly had they thought, how well had they thought. Not just what they had been allowed to do, but what they could have done.

And we think that is very important; what you could have done. By the way I think the copywriting perhaps should not be called copywriting. I think maybe that is a great failure, I think you first must be a thinker and a thinker about problem of selling. Then when you can really put that into words, then you become the person who puts the words of the idea down. Too many people who approach this think that all they need is clever and bright use of words. That is not the case. Our sole purpose is to sell.

So first you have to be a salesman. You have to have good merchandising and sales concept. Good psychological insights and motivations. When you can put good words to them, then you become a so-called copywriter.
I think many people get misled. They think if they can write, they can be an advertising copywriter.
I do not believe that.

chuukyuu How do you lead and teach your young writers?

Mrs.Green Let me see, I hope I encourage them to be fresh and bright and to face the real problem of the assignment, not to face the problem they prefer.
I think the most important problem in growing up in this business is "are you dealing with what the problem really is" or do you say " I don't like that problem.
I'd rather do this." I think the problem is always putting in you mind on what the real question is, not the question you like.
I really do not know how I reach.
I hope with enthusiasm with a firm view point , but not dogmatic, and by being very demanding. I like preciseness. I do not like vagueness. I like clarity, I like simplicity, I do not like cleverness for the sake of cleverness. I like clear-minded people who have a mind of their own; open -minded at the same time. And this is a hard combination. But I taught in the past.

chuukyuu What is your secret of making your career and house keeping compatible?

Mrs.Green I'm not sure they are. I think my secret is my marvelous husband and marvelous housekeeper. I think they are more compatible as I am better at home as mother and wife.
I try not paid and thus I have fewer worries at either end. I think the economic security allows you to do so many jobs better because you concerned worry so mach less when you make a decision. You no longer are concerned if it is wrong. It is harder to correct a mistake with little money to spend.
I think as the economics have improved, my relationships have improved. And I have a great son. And that helps.
I think the other one thing I do is that I try very hard to be at home as mother and wife. I try not to let business wash over into my social relationships.

chuukyuu Do you have any knack to get along well with art director?

Mrs.Green I do not know. I think the knack ia always how to get along with anyone. You have point of view but you are open to their point of view. You understand in their way they are. They have their needs and wants and try to work with those. Just as they try obviously to work with mine. I think perhaps a woman has the advantage in a sense of being able to be understanding in this relationship. Without trying very hard if she is a woman and understands she is a woman, she gets along with a man non-competitively , hopefully as a companion.
By the way, I think they react the same way. I do not believe it is ever one-side. As much as I give, obviously some one else is equally giving.
The knack is, I think, to treat them as good friends and good colleagues with a single minded job to do that is not a matter of ego but as a matter of professional man craft. I hope that true.

chuukyuu What advice or fremarks by Mr. Bernbach impressed you most?

Mrs.Green I think my very first experience with this company which absolutely amazed me was the extraordinary and the backbone of the principals of this agency that I had occasion to see in very early dealings here. Their straight forward dealing with clients, their conviction and honesty I was terribly amazed.

I did not know that existed. It was always coupled with great intelligence, keen-ness and wit.
They allowed me from the very beginning to be as honest and open with clients. No one ever told me "Don't say anything at meeting, Paula. Don't give you opinion and quiet." Never.
They always presumed me to have judgment and allowed me to contribute as much as possible, ask questions and forthright.
The second thing that impressed me about Mr.Bernbach is that he said "Advertising is not just strictly science that you can put numbers to, but is an art and a talent. And to be fresh and provocative always do a solid job."
And the other thing was that how you know what it is right is in your intuition and experience. Intuition and experience can a couple to give you knowledge of where you are going and why.
Mr.Bernbach has been a remarkable example I think.

chuukyuu Please tell me your favorite ads example including the episodes.

Mrs.Green For variety of reasons, I like the Avis campaign.
I was the original Avis girl, the original writer on the Avis campaign. Obviously it was a milestone in my career, in advertising, in the industry, in almost the world.
I do not think we dreamed what would happen. Nobody said "Oh boy, this is going to set everybody on his car." We hoped to do a job. We thought it was a great thing. We had no idea how absolutely far-reaching it was going to be. We thought we had something obviously or we would not have done it. But I think obviously could have have realized what was going to happen when we did it. So, "Avis is only No.2 in rent a car business.So why go with us?" ad is obviously my absolute favorite.