More Than '15 Minutes of Fame'
By Kurt Brokaw, Cuture Editor
Andy Warhol promised 15 minutes of fame to each of us. But Warhol's tomato soup can is a unique statement of art-in-commerce that stays with us forever.
My one appearance on national television - which ran a lot less than 15 minutes - was the day before this past Christmas, on Russian television.
NTV, the Russian TV network with a Manhattan base, got my name from New School University and called to request an interview for a news segment. Their "lifestyle piece," on the marketing and advertising of U.S. luxury goods, was scheduled to run in Moscow and wherever else in the Soviet Union that NTV news airs, on December 24. I'd be the U.S. talking head.
And so I chatted away with reporter Vasiliy Arkanov (whose English was excellent) and explained how class differences, like product differences, were disappearing before our eyes in America, and how middle class people with bucks routinely enjoy the kind of toys that once belonged exclusively to the upper class. Anyone can drive a Lexus, have a sub-zero in the kitchen and a plasma in the family room - right next to the Warhol. All it takes is money.
NTV cut together a nice segment, framing and editing my sound bites in English into a mostly Russian narrative along Fifth Avenue shops and shoppers and merchants, zooming in to the $20 martinis and $100 mini-chocolate boxes. There I was - 40 years of hard labor on Mad Ave. and all my accumulated knowledge is rolling out in greater downtown Leningrad. Fifteen minutes of fame? More like 15 minutes of total obscurity.
If brought to mind some of the truly great advertising quotes I've clipped and remembers through the years. Let me share 33 with you. This stuff that sticks in the mind more than 15 minutes - the kind of truths I tend to ruminate over in the Hour of the Wolf. Maybe you have one of your own - it might be on a post-it stuck along the frame of your computer, ever reminding you why you're doing this day-in and ay-out and too many nights, and what you're hoping to achieve short or long-term. Is it as good as Andy's tomato soup can? Let us know.
"Why focus on Madison Avenue, not Fifth Avenue? One block west of Madison, Fifth actually contained more agencies than Madison. But Fifth already had an image (upscale stores) and so popular novels and motion pictures branded Madison Avenue into advertising's hide in the 40's and 50's, when the 'three-martini lunch' came to symbolize the adman's lifestyle." - Fred Danzig, Advertising Age
"Remember, two things make good advertising. One, a good simple idea. Two, repetition. And by repetition, by God, I mean until the public is so irritated with it, they'll buy your brand because they bloody well can't forget it. All you professional advertising men are scared to death of raping the public; I say the public likes it, if you got the know-how to make 'em relax and enjoy it." - Evan Evans, President of Beautee Soap, in - Frederick Wakeman's novel, "The Hucksters" (1946)
"Look, you have a competitor called Madison Avenue. They get a group of advertising professionals and they pick the best advertising of the year and the worst. (Mr. Reeves gets up and gets a copy of the publication from his desk. July, 1964.) And among the worst, they have two of the most successful commercials now on the air. One is the Action bleach by the Bates agency and the other is the White knight by Norman, Craig & Kummel. Now, listen to this (he reads) 'Which TV commercials do creative executives personally consider the best and the worst..." (Mr. Reeves slaps the page with the back of his hand and glares at the visitor.) Now, these are 'creative executives' and they picked as the worst, two of the most successful commercials. This is us - and we have the greats group of professionals here at Bates on Madison Avenue - this to us is garbage." - Rosser Reeves, Chairman of the Board, Ted Bates (Interview with Dennis Higgins of Advertising Age)
"Now, if you put the spot in front of people in their teens and 20s, I think they'd laugh." - Penny Hawkey, Creative Director, Medicus New York, on her "mean Joe Greene" commercial for Coca-Cola
"The difference between the forgettable and the enduring is artistry." - Bill Bernbach
"They're aware that they're talking about little bears capering around a cereal box and they're arguing which way the bears should go. It's a silly thing for adults to be doing. At the same time, millions of dollars went into these little bears, so that gives them an importance of their won. It's serious, yet it isn't. ...The client isn't happy with the way the bears are moving. You don't know why he's unhappy. Clients have different styles. They can't articulate it. They begin to thrash around. You have to remain calm and figure out what's bothering him. Then you light on it and say, "We can change that." And he says, "Oh yeah? Then it's okay." Occasionally we present to people who are crazy." - John Fortune, in Studes Terkel's "Working" (1974)
"In advertisements, women are shown mentally drifting from the physical scene around them, while in close physical touch with a male, as though his aliveness to the around and his readiness to cope with anything were enough for both of them. At the same time, the male may wear a wary, monitoring look. Thus, 'anchored drifts.' Various points of visual focus are found." - Erving Goffman, sociologist, "Gender Advertisements" (1976)
"There is no time to build character in a commercial, so you have to find characters." - Joe Sedelmaier, TV commercials director of the Federal Express 'Fast Talker' spots
"The airline ads promise service that is 'human' and personal. The omnipresent smile suggests, first of all, that the flight attendant is friendly, helpful and open to requests. But when words are added, the smile can be sexualized, as in "We really move our tails for you tot make your ever wish come true"(Continental), or "Fly me, you'll like it" (National). Such innuendos lend strength to the conventional fantasy that in the air, anything can happen. As one flight attendant put it, 'You have married men with three kids getting o the plane and suddenly they feel anything goes. It's like they leave that reality on the ground, and you fit into their fantasy as some geisha girl. It happens over and over again.'" - Arlie Russell Hochschild, "the Managed Heart" (1983)
"I'm a bit weedy about new business. But I understand that in this business, you have to kiss a lot of frogs, as they say." - Frank Lowe (1985)
"The irony in a large agency is that the better you are at what you do, the more you are going to rise to a level where you no longer do it." - Diane Rothschild, Co-Founder, Grace & Rothschild (1986)
"I plunged into the mediocrity of the commercial world and got myself a reputation as the enfant terrible of the advertising world. I'm sure I deserved it, and I'm just as sure that without fighting for my work every second of my life, my work would be just as dull and uninspired as most of the so-called communications in the world (the bland leading the bland). To produce work I could be proud of, I've had to shove, push, cajole, persuade, wheedle, exaggerate, flatter, manipulate, be obnoxious, occasionally lie, and always sell." - George Lois, "Advertising In America" (1990)
"In every other kind of business I know, marketing strategies command huge and totally justifiable prices. In the agency business, we give them away with ads." - Martin Sorrell (1990)
"Lee Clow is the Neil Young of advertising." - Nick Cohen, Mad Dogs & Englishmen. "At 53 he still surfs. He has never lied to a client. His favorite food is mushroom pizza. He has only changed jobs once in his life and that was 25 years ago. In the months before his mom passed away, he spent nearly every lunch hour visiting with her, telling her what was happening at work and seeking her advise and guidance." - Tribute ad to Lee Clow on being inducted into Hall of Fame for Advertising, 1997
"Michael Jordan knows that what he sells is not shoes, underwear, eyeglasses, cologne, breakfast cereal, long-distance phone service, or even the National Basketball Association. What he sells is perception, the perception of the brand Michael Jordan. He sells it so well that he was responsible for rocketing Nike from 18% of the sneaker market to 43% in just a decade. ...In Adland, no one jumps higher than that." - James Twitchell, "20 Ads that Shook The World"
"Advertising is not the same as branding. It's an important tool, it does a unique service, but increasingly, branding is about bringing the brand truth through all the points of contact with the consumer." - Shelley Lazarus, Chairman/ECO, Ogilvy & Mather
"Goodby, Silverstein is a very different place today. It's established and big. But the spirit's there. That's one of the reasons why it hasn't experienced the sort of radioactive half-life decay that happens to good places, as people melt away to start competitive agencies." - Andy Berlin, former Goodby, Silverstein partner
"When the approach (to writing a novel with a Bulgari product placement) came through, I thought, "Oh no, dear me, I am a literary author. You can't do this king of thing; my name will be mud forever. But then after a while I thought, 'I don't care. Let it be mud.'" - Fay Weldon, author of "The Bulgari Connection" and former Ogilvy & Mather copywritier
"In a military war it's suicide to attack across a wide front. The only strategy that has a chance of success is an attack on a narrow front. 'Deep penetration on a narrow front' is the mantra of a military mind. In a business war the same principles apply. In concentration there is strength." - Al Reis, "Focus" (1997)
"The urban cultural phenomenon brought on by the emergence of rap and hip-hop music has become the dominant influence on American youth. Clients are beginning to recognize the influence and are paying more attention to the ethic market segment." - Bryon Lewis, Chairman/CEO, UniWorld Group
"Swiss Army - the little knife that has all these handy gadgets on it - went from a product to a brand when we took the core values of the knife and transferred them to watches and luggage and apparel. We talked about 'ingenuity,' about being 'equipped.' We used print to reposition." - Edward, Boches, Chief Creative Officer, Mullen Advertising
"There was a font page article on senators and congresswomen. And they said that at the end of the day- session in government, that they still have to pick up the dry cleaning and pick p the groceries because they still have the responsibilities at home as well as at the House of Representatives. I thought this was amazing. That no matter what you do, no matter what you've achieved, there are still those groceries." - Helaine Spivak, Worldwide Creative Director, J. Walter Thompson
"Charlotte Beers brought incredible expertise from Madison Avenue to Foggy Bottom, and her goals of reaching younger, broader and deeper audiences, particularly in the Muslim world, will continue." - Colin Powell, Secretary of State (Ms. Beers, former CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, resigned in 2003 as Undersecretary of State for personal health reasons)
"Hillary Clinton has a side to her that's fun. When we were showing her the work, she was cracking jokes - that's what I liked about her, but it was tough working on that campaign. If you think there's a lot of politics in advertising, imagine what it's like in politics. It started out OK with Hillary, but then we had to present to consultants who could change and adjust it...and that was difficult." - Sal DeVito, Co-Founder, Creative Director, DeVito/Verdi
"The world is probably ready for a female President of the United States. I think if you had a businesswoman who became a successful governor or senator, but she would have to be very charismatic - not in a motion-picture way, I mean a woman who stimulated you, a woman who clearly was visionary and clearly has her feet on the ground...one who gave everybody some feeling that her credentials were good and she could read the bottom line of the country." - Mary Wells Lawrence (N.Y. Times interview)
"Gays are affluent. They enjoy the home, fine entertaining, the quality of the product. We wanted to show them that Waterford was serious about them." - Anita Brady, VP Marketing, Waterford Wedgewood, an advertiser in Out Magazine since 1996
"Logos that have been burned into our brains by the finest image campaigns money can buy, and lifted a little closer to the sun by their sponsorship of much-loved cultural events, are perpetually bathed in a glow - the "loglo," to borrow a term from science fiction writer Neal Stevenson." - Naomi Klein, "No Logo"
"With personalized marketing, there's a new twist - you're alone against the marketers, in the crosshairs like never before. So what do you prefer: that Nike hails you on your cell phone, or bombards you with street ads just like everybody else?" - Nick Rockel (Adbusters Magazine)
"I consider it a success if I don't go to jail." - Ron English, a 'culture jammer' who plasters his original paintings over Manhattan billboards, using similar graphics but altering the advertiser's message in satiric ways
"The one thing I think I know is going to grow popular is sushi. That's because everyone who works in the Internet business sits in front of a terminal all day and night, and sushi is the perfect food to eat while you're surfing the Web." - Stuart Elliott, N.Y. Times advertising columnist (interview with Tim McHale in Digitrends.net)
"The biggest controversy in online advertising today is the Google vs. Yahoo! Approach to paid listings. It goes to this issue of authenticity. Goggle will use the word evil to describe the paid inclusion service. Part of what the Google brand represents is a clear separation between the ads and the listing services that represent the semantically closest thing to what we asked for." - Rob Glaser, RealNetworks (Wired Magazine)