Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A look back.

Years ago I worked at a mid-sized shop called Rosenfeld and Sirowitz. You haven't heard of the place, but in the 70s and 80s it was a fairly well-respected mid-sized agency in New York, and I think in 1983 or so had won the epigram as 'mid-sized agency of the year.'

Ron Rosenfeld was the youngest person ever inducted into the copywriter's hall of fame and probably won more awards while at Doyle Dane than anyone. His partner, Len Sirowitz also hailed from DDB and was in the Art Director's Hall of Fame. I went there, as a young copywriter, thinking I'd have direct access, that I'd be able to learn at the feet of two advertising legends.

However, by the time I joined the agency in 1988, both Ron and Len seemed less interested in doing great work than in making great amounts of money. They were no longer prodded by Bill Bernbach. The agency's output slunk toward mediocrity.

Still, I was a young writer and had to go over my copy with Ron. Much of what I was doing in those days was pretty copy heavy, including a lot of radio.

I suppose Ron was pretty lonely sitting in his gigantic office overlooking 5th Avenue. If I went in there to go over something, I could easily be there for two hours and leave not knowing what the hell he wanted me to do.

So I devised a strategy to get Ron's approval without having to endure Ron. I would have his secretary call me as he was getting up to leave for lunch. I would then hustle from my office to his and intercept him on the way to the elevator. That 20 yard walk plus the minute or three we had to wait for the Otis was usually enough to get clear direction and permission to move ahead. Ron wasn't about to let a piece of copy get in the way of his lunch.

I stayed at Rosenfeld for just 20 months. And then went to work for two more Hall of Famers who seemed to care more about the work, Amil Gargano and Mike Tesch, at another agency no one has heard of, Ally & Gargano.

Neither place was a bed of roses.

I guess no place is.

But, as the recently deceased Yogi Berra said, "You can observe a lot by watching." And I guess I did, picking up little niblicks of learning and experience along the way.

And most of all continuing to do work that I think is good.

Really. What more can you do?

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