on "DDB NEWS" February issue, 1971
What can we say about a book called "The New Advertising: The Great Campaigns from Avis to Volkswagen"?
The title is enough to make us blush modestly and quickly turn the page-to Chapter One, entitled "The Best Agency." Which is all about DDB.
And if this isn't enough to turn our heads, the second chapter is devoted to the Avis-Hertz affair. It's a bit like the time Bill Bernbach was asked what it feels like to be a legend in his field.
"You embarrass me," he said, and went right back to talking about what the agency was doing now.
Yes, it's down right hard to talk about ourselves.
So it's nice when there are people like Robert Glatzer, author of "The New Advertising," to do it for us.
Without further ado, we give you Mr. Glatzer.
On DDB in general
"What makes a good agency is, very simply, the quality of its advertisements, as judged by a consensus of those who happen to care about such things.
By that standard, it would be hard to deny that Doyle Dane Bernbach is the best advertising agency in the United States ... Its standard of work is consistently higher than that of any other agency, large or small, and its work has been the greatest single influence on advertising in this country since World War II.
" ... the agency has educated its clients first to accept, and then to demand, better advertising; and it has encouraged other agencies to do work of imagination and taste, thus educating their clients in
turn ... With the exception of Mr. Ally, at least one present owner of each agency (Tinker; Wells, Rich, Greene; PKL; Carl Ally) had been hired by William Bernbach as a copywriter or art director within the past ten years."
"Perhaps (his) greatest contribu.tion, even more than his individual campaigns, was his recognition that, to the consumer, advertising is as much a part of a product's makeup as its chemical composition
... It was William Bernbach who first looked at his client's product the way a consumer would, in the context of a world that did not crumble if, God forbid, there was no more Lifebuoy in the
When the product had shortcomings (e.g. Avis, Volkswagen, Levy's), he recognized them and used them to explain what its strengths were."
On Volkswagen ads
"Bernbach made an intuitive decision to turn the liability of the car's appearanceinto the virtue of honesty ... The ads have remained representations of the theme of 'honesty,' with simple layouts, a c ean, uncluttered look, and a copy style -- that is factual and straightforward.
The ads are as 'honest' as the car."
On Polaroid ads
"These early ads are good examples of how Bernbach's people could convey the essence of a product. They are almost shockingly simple, and by virtue of their own simplicity they convey to the reader
that taking pictures with a Polaroid camera must also be simple ... (In 1957), the agency began advertising Polaroid on television, with live commercials on Steve Allen's Tonight show. They were perhaps the best advertising demonstrations ever done on television ... (Bob) Gage and Mrs. Robinson created a series of human emotion commercials that have run, with refinements, up to the present.
Some of them have brought viewers to tears by their portrayal of sentimental, touching moments, which is rather an accomplishment in sixty seconds of commercial
time. It is even possible to say that these commercials, on occasion, touch art..."
On Ohrbach's ads
"Nevertheless, even the early Ohrbach's ads were oases in the bleak desert of retail advertising. They were involving; they had the quality of talking to the reader when most stores simply talked to themselves; they were lively, sometimes funny, and they could be read with pleasure all the way to the bottom of the page. They created an image for the store that made it the quintessence of inexpensive chic for every woman in New York."
On EI AI ads
"Bernbach ... created a campaign so good that its first two ads revolutionized all airline advertising.... These two ads typify the agency's ability to set a tone with a campaign's first advertisement that other writers and art directors can expand on almost indefinitely, without resorting to the uneasy imitation that has plaguedother imaginative admakers ... when others take over their work."
On Levy's ads
"They are early examples of Phyllis Robinson's ability to express in a phrase the essential qualities of a product ... In 1960 the first of Levy's famous subway posters appeared, with a slogan that came to be one of the most famous in the advertising business: "You don't have to beJewish to love Levy's." ... What Doyle Dane Bernbach did for Levy's was to recognize that the bread had no discernible characteristics that might set it off from its competitors ... Instead of claiming virtues where there were none, the agency gave Levy's a personality different
from that of its competitors-most of which had no personalities at all-and made its name at least recognizable to New Yorkers, if not instantly and universally desirable. This does not automatically ensure that the product will be a success- an agency has little control over
that-but without question it can be a great help."
On Avis ads
"Given the client, and working from the agency's theory that advertising can act as a tangible attribute of a product, (Helmut) Krone and Miss (Paula) Green began producing what has been called the most unusual campaign-and the most important- of the 1960's ... There were shocked-even enraged-comments from other agencies and advertisers, to the effect that no one in his right mind could do ads like these, could sell his client short, as they felt these did, could blatantly
proclaim that here was a company that was only Number 2 in its field ... For many executives, renting from Avis became the 'in' thing, it showed your identification with the underdog, and perhaps even your appreciation of the ads." Of course, there's much more to "The New Advertising" than these excerpts reveal. Mr. Glatzer deals quite frankly with us and with other agencies and admakers. He also answers the burning question, featured in the teaser ads, "Does Shirley
Polykoff have a sexy mind?" (She doesn't.) If this revelation hasn't ruined the book for you, amble on down to the Library for a peek at "The New Advertising" and our role in it.