Tag Archives: ddb


I was at Bob Scarpelli’s retirement party last night.

Bob Scarpelli was chief creative officer at DDB Chicago and subsequently worldwide creative director of DDB.

Bob hired me twice. And both times my wife got pregnant, instantly.

So clearly, being hired by Bob Scarpelli will cure infertility.

Bob invited a bunch of former DDB colleagues including myself to his farewell party at a Steak house in Chicago last night.

It was a great night.

Bob has decided that now is a good time to bow out of the ad game.

I should point out that Bob drives an Aston Martin. It used to be a Maserati. Bob is Italian and, big surprise, likes nice cars.

It was a great night.

Lots of reminiscing about the days when DDB Chicago was the hottest agency in the world under his supervision.

But at his request, there were no slickly edited emotional videos. No big advertising hoopla. Just friends, food and booze.

There was a lot of booze.

The legendary but never-aired “UNCLE JULIUS” Budweiser spot was discussed.

And now my head hurts.

Thanks for everything Bob!

Bud Light is up for review

Just read that Bud Light is up for review after 28 years at incumbent DDB Chicago.

I worked on that brand for two years at DDB in the mid 90s.

It was great fun to work on but it was made difficult by the brand having the stone age strategy of “what would you do for a Bud Light?”.

Everything you thought of and idea you had was immediately met with an “oh we did that three/five/seven years ago!” reaction.

Or, “the brewery doesn’t like spots with epileptic penguins”.

So it could be a mind-bendingly difficult assignment to come up with anything fresh for. A real head scratcher.

But the good thing was I was being paid to do this and had nothing else to occupy my time.

Plus, I was insanely bent on producing a famous funny beer spot. That helped too.

Also, the brand had experienced double digit growth every year for 12 years. So the client was unusually receptive to crazy ideas.

Working on Bud Light was a great training ground for a lot of creatives, myself included.

They had a monstrous media budget and the production budgets weren’t too bad either. I was also keen to take advantage of that. And did!

If you did a Bud Light spot the whole country would know about it. This prospect would frequently cause me to wet myself.

DDB Chicago did a stellar job on Budweiser Light, as it was initially named, over the years.

It’s one of the all time great marketing success stories.

So a hearty WELL DONE! to veteran Chicago DDB-ers JT Mapel and Mark Gross and Chuck Rachford and (you know he’ll sulk if i don’t mention him) Chris Roe!

I don’t know how you guys did it, year after year after year.

After year.

And well done to everyone else who nearly shat themselves with terror on a Sunday night because the latest Bud Light Superbowl scripts were due Monday morning.

And you’d heard Goodby were rumored to be in the frame on this one.

And the pressure was really on this time.

No,seriously guys! This is really serious this time!

And Bob Lachky has a verucca.


It was like Vietnam.

If you weren’t there you just can’t understand maaaaaaan!!!

The Escape Pod to present Bob Saget at Cannes 2009!


Taking a cue from our colleagues Y&R and DDB, who for reasons known only to themselves, are presenting Roger Daltrey and David Plouffe at this year’s advertising bacchanal, The Escape Pod has decided to add TV’s Bob Saget to the mix.

Star of legendary sitcom Full House, host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, friend and confidant of Dave Coulier, we feel Bob Saget is just the guy to hold forth on new media and whatnot to an audience of jetlagged, hungover and disinterested ad folks. Let’s face it, he practically invented youtube (AFHV was Youtube on your TV) and Full House was, undeniably, the template for Facebook.

We predict a “full house” for this exciting event.

My brushes with history – volume one

I have had more than my fair share of brushes with history.

Random example: I was standing outside the Old Bailey courthouse in London when the Guilford Four finally got of prison after serving 18 years for a crime (IRA bombings) that they didn’t commit. The story of the Guilford Four was later made into a movie called “In The Name Of The Father” starring Daniel Day Lewis. I had the good luck to join the campaign trying to secure their release just six months before finally got out of jail.

Other random example: I was in the hotel room in New York with Mayor David Dinkins when he found out he lost the election to Rudolph Giuliani in 1994. Don King was in the room. Al Sharpton was there. I was there.

Being in the presence of history and historical figures is exciting. So it was very exciting then that I found myself at a B’nai Brith dinner honoring legendary DDB copywriter Bob Levenson in the early 90s. Bob Levenson was Bill Bernbach’s legendary creative second-in-command. His art director partner was some German dude named, uh, oh yeah, Helmut Krone.

My boss was one of the original Mad Men. He was one of the creative revolutionaries of the 1960s. These guys were his pals. I was seated at the head table. With all my heroes. It was my first job. I was in heaven.

As you can imagine, i was seriously amped. But nothing could have prepared me for what happened later that night. The legendary David Abbott – founder of London agency Abbott Mead Vickers (who were an investor in the NY agency i worked for) delivered the keynote speech honoring Bob Levenson.

His speech consisted his recounting the first time he met Bob Levenson in the 1960s.

I know this sounds like bullshit but it’s true. In 1966, the young David Abbott had been summoned from DDB London to DDB New York to learn the “DDB way” by Bill Bernbach. So David showed up at DDB New York and was told to report to Bob Levenson. Which he dutifully did. And when he found Bob’s office, Bob was in the process of hanging a framed copy of his famous “We’ve been in the travel business a long time” ad for EL AL on his office wall.  Bob had his back to David as he regarded his own work and was completely unaware he was standing patiently behind him in the doorway.

The genius part? David Abbott seized the moment and covered his eyes and started reciting every single word of the ad Bob L. was holding in his hands. He had memorized the entire ad. I suspected he must have had a photographic memory. Or, he just cared about advertising a lot. Either way…”Great first impression Mr. Abbott! My name’s Bob Levenson!” was the only acceptable reaction.

So cut to 25 years later in the ballroom of the Manhattan Sheraton hotel. David Abbott recounted that first meeting with Bob at the B’nai Brith dinner and proceeded to, once again, cover his eyes and recite every single word in the ad – down to the legal mouse type. A huge copy of the El Al ad was projected on a screen behind him so the audience could follow along. It was perfect. The perfect thing to do. There wasn’t a dry martini in the house. Bob Levenson beamed appropriately.

My head nearly exploded. But I did have the presence of mind to get everyone present to sign my menu. Still have it. Natch.

I also have a signed (by Bob Levenson) copy of “Bill Bernbach’s Book”. But my signed copy of that book has a little handwritten note that indicates that mine was personally given to me by former DDB chairman Keith Reinhardt. Yours doesn’t.

History is everything!