on 'DDB NEWS' April issue, 1970
The day after Bob Levenson's appointment as Creative Director of DDB was announced, the following conversation was
overheard in the elevator:
COPY VP: It's the most logical thing to happen around here in 10 years.
ART VP: The fact that it's also good is a bonus.
To the "what is the significance of this move?" type of question from the press, Bob Levenson (being a writer) used a
"It's like Bernbach, Gage and I were driving along in the same car and after we stopped for coffee they said, 'We'd like to look at the scenery awhile. Why don't you drive?' We're all going to the same place and we all want to get there in one piece. So they can still say, 'Hey, stupid; watch out for the truck!"
For a man who's going to be doing a lot of the driving, Bob plans to do a lot of walking, too.
"Corny as it sounds, nobody has made the time to walk down the hallways and say, 'Hi, how's everything ... let's schmooze about advertising ... or let's schmooze about anything.' " Bob means to make plenty of time for that.
He means to be available, "and if I'm not available, it's because I'm going to be fighting for a piece of work at a client's, or sitting with somebody who has an emergency."
Bob has a headful of plans to make things pop, but he's of the launch-it-first-talk-about-it-later school, and he's entitled. This much he consents to say on that score:
"It used to be that DDB was the only place to work. These days, there are a few alternatives. I'd like to make it the only place to work again."
Bob decided DDB was the only place to work when the EI AI "Torn Ocean" ad appeared in the New York Times. He started knocking at the door, "1 applied and applied and applied and finally I just wore them down, and I was hired in 1959."
He had one previous advertising job, as a direct mail copywriter.
He had planned to be an English teacher (he said in a DDB News Interview in 1968) "until I began to look around at my
own teachers, who always wore the same suit and the same crummy pair of shoes every day, and I decided I couldn't go through Jife in the suit I was wearing at the time, and it didn't look like anybody ever got past that one suit, so...."
So Bob joined DDB and it wasn't long before he contributed a classic ad to the EI AI series - "My Son, the Pilot." The
campaigns he has been most closely associated with in the years since - along with EI AI - are Volkswagen, Lever Brothers.
My Son, the pilot.
by Tillie Katz
I'm not saying this just because he's my only .son.
But who ever thought a boy from Jacksonville, Florida would grow up to be the Chief Pilot for a whole airline')
It's funny, but Bill wasn't even interested in flying when he was young. Which was all right with me. Frankly, it made me a little nervous even when he played football.
Then something got into him, Just when we all thought he was going into some nice business, he enlisted in the Air Corps,
Pretty soon. he was a group commander with the 8th Air Force in Europe, By the time he came home, it was Captain Katz.
With a Distinguished Flying Cross, if you please.
Afterwards, it was flying, flying, Hying.
I don't know if you ·could call him a pioneer or anything, but he was right there when EL AL was only a tiny little airline.
And now? Now you can call him Chief Pilot.
And does he keep an eye on that airline!
Sometimes I think he worries about it too much.
Do you know how many miles he's flown? Over 2 million! Do you know how long he's spent in the air? Over 12 thousand hours!
But if that's what it takes to make the airline so good. that's what he does.
The other pilots even tell a joke on him. They say he only comes down to collect his pay.
But I know better. I have two beautiful grandchildren who live in Israel with Bill and my daughter-in-law.
They come to see me now and then, but I wish I could spoil them
more often, It's a good thing they have Bill for a father. He spoils
everybody, Except himself.
So if you fly on EL AL and see him, tell him I said to dress warm.
"The NewYorker 1962.12.29"