Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The ultimate creative machine.

            I have to hand it to Marty Puris. Of all of us in our group of Campbell-Ewald alumni, Marty turned out to be the biggest success in business.

            I can reel off a list of ad biggies that were in that group: Marvin Honig, Vice Chairman of Doyle Dane Bernbach; Jane Warshaw, a top writer at Wells, Rich and Greene; Bruce McCall, who now does covers and stories for The New Yorker; Dutch Leonard, of crime novel fame; Carl Ally and Emil Gargano, whose agency made FedEx famous; Ross Van Dusen, creative director of Chiat/Day, San Francisco; Bill Bratkowski, head of Coppos, one of the most famous film companies in L.A.; and more.

           All great. But Marty went for the gold. He and his art-director partner, Ralph Ammirati, went out on their own with the BMW account. "The ultimate driving machine" and some marvellous TV commercials were born, and the rest is advertising history. Interpublic bought their agency and renamed offices all over the world as "Ammirati Puris Lintas".

           On a trip to Italy, I picked up the phone and called Marty from the House of the Poets, the mansion (now a hotel) which the Medicis gave to Dante and friends. Marty wasn't in the Florence office that day, but boy, did I fluster the receptionist.

           I remember Marty on his first day on the job at Campbell-Ewald. He had previously been at N.W.Ayer, writing ads for the Plymouth Barracuda. At our place he was assigned to the Chevrolet Dealers Account. His group had to prepare newspaper ads for 6,000 Chevy dealers across the country. Within six months, Marty was upsetting the status quo. He and his partner Bill Bratkowski had created a campaign positioning Chevy dealer against Chevy dealer, to give you a better deal. The first ad said something like "With Chevy dealers, it's dog eat dog." Another ad read something like "With friends like Chevy dealers, who needs enemies?" The ads made people in our agency nervous. Which made Marty upset. He quit shortly thereafter and went to Young and Rubicam in New York.

           After that, Marty would call me on Saturdays from New York, urging me to join him. I never did. The town wasn't big enough for both of us.

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