More About Madison Avenue

Before leaping into the inferno of Hollywood scriptwriting, and surviving relatively unscathed, my creative career began as a copywriter at powerhouse New York City advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather.  Though I’d never taken a course in marketing or film production I seemed to have had an intuitive knack for both and quickly rose between the ages of twenty-three and thirty from copywriter, to Creative Supervisor, to Vice President/Creative Director.  I wrote and produced many, many commercials that, until recently, were lost only to the archive of memory.  Back then there was no such thing as transferring film to digital disks or thumb drives.  The library of my advertising days was a box-load of sixteen-millimeter TV spots that was tragically lost during a period of personal tumult, transition, and chaos.  Decades later, while rummaging through a storage container, I came upon a metal film canister marked “Ogilvy & Mather.”  With no movie projector in the closet, I sent the canister to a digital transfer service; lo and behold there they were, a handful of surviving TV commercials I wrote and produced forty years earlier.  Memory Archive to Actual Archive.  Risen from the grave, my commercials rang out with all their Madison Avenue glory: “Nationwide Is On Your Side,” “Reese’s has gone nuts.” “Get fresh.  Get Yago.”  Unfortunately, gone forever were long-lost commercials that never made it to the reel.  During a seventies financial collapse that mass media dubbed “The War on Inflation,” I created a campaign for Merrill Lynch called “Choose Your Weapon.”  While primarily designed for print, full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, the client asked me to create a TV commercial that ran exclusively during the Super Bowl.  A no-nonsense investment expert strode toward camera imploring the battle cry, “Don’t sit by idly and be ravaged by the war on inflation.  Fight back.  Call Merrill Lynch and choose your weapon.”  Today it seems that a viable advertising strategy is to hire a famous movie star to represent your product.  Way back when the creative people I knew wanted their commercial to be the star, and thus searched and searched for unknown actors.  It became a game of bragging rights for writers and art directors to boast about who they “discovered.”  There was a commercial featuring a beaming young man showing off his new car near a broken fire hydrant in Little Italy, Robert De Niro.  A woman producer I knew cast for weeks until she found baby-face John Travolta.  My bragging right was a young actor playing the part of a tennis pro years before he won the coveted movie role of Superman, Christopher Reeve.  Alas, that commercial is available for viewing only in my fast-fading Memory Archive.  Now for the good news.  The resurrection.  The Actual Archive.  Click the link below to view some of my ancient TV commercials, transferred to black and white since the colors had permanently faded.  Please, try not to judge, try not to scorn, and, above all, try Yago Sangria…