The Brand Brothers #03 – The Real Mad Men: Their Forgotten Secrets.

Bill: I don’t want to talk to them, I don’t want to see them, I want to stay in my stretch limo. I want frosted black glass, I want to be carried.

Lorenzo: Drunk with power. You’re already drunk with power.

Bill: I want to be carried into the Xenon club in New York.

Lorenzo: The Brand Brothers has gone to our head already.

Bill: Its gone to our head. And not well.

Lorenzo: We’re velvet rope only guys. On today’s episode-

Bill: Oh? We started?

Lorenzo: Yeah! We’re talking about the real Don Draper. Even though the fake one is very handsome.

Bill: Which episode is this? This is episode 135? We’re not doing them in order, we started with 135.

Lorenzo: Episode 3- the Real Don Draper.

Bill: Oh yeah, the real Don Draper. If anyone doesn’t know Don Draper, we’re referring to that great show on television that they call Mad Men. If you haven’t seen it I would want you to stop listening right now and go buy the entire series and binge watch it and come back to us.

Lorenzo: Or go on Netflix, I think it’s still on Netflix. Could be.

Bill: Oh, maybe. It probably is. It was a groundbreaking show, of course, about the advertising guys in the 1960s. And these are the guys that made some of the greatest brands on Earth, I mean they really did. They came up with all this stuff, it was the golden age of television, it was the golden age of advertising in new york, and the advertising guys were very glamorous industry. But they smoked and they drank and they womanized and the menized. Why is it just womanized, they menized! The women liked the men and the men liked the women!

Lorenzo: They were equal -izers.

Bill: Yeah, but I had this question too. You know a Jewish term they call a man is a Mensch. A good man is called a Mensch. Is a good woman a Wench? I don’t know. I always wondered about that.

Lorenzo: We’ll let our sponsors decide.

Bill: We could be straying again… So mad men on TV with Don Draper, what we wanted to say today was that Don Draper was actually a real guy.

Lorenzo: Well, first off there’s two things that always hit me. One, you told me that he was based on a real character. It melted my brain

Bill: Melted your brain, not in your hand?

Lorenzo: And I was like, I need to know everything there is to know about this person. And the second thing is that you worked for the agency, and I just thought “this is so cool”, and then secretly i wanted to steal your business cards so that i could tell people i knew you.

Bill: Well, somehow the first real job i ever had after i was, you know, released from jail, reform school. But the first job was as a copywriter in New York. I was from Boston, and i got a copywriting job in New York. I had always loved TV commercials since I was a kid, my mom even said I used to hum jingles when I was a little kid, the first word that came out of my mouth was “melts in your mouth, not in your hand”.

Lorenzo: You sang it.

Bill: I did. So, I got to New York and I got hired by Ted Bates, which is the tagline agency. These are the guys that did those great, great taglines, like Wheaties, breakfast of champions, melts in your mouth, Rolaids. How do you spell Relief, R-O-L-A-I-D-S. All these great things. And I was hired by a guy named Mark Schwatka. I think he’s in the witness protection program now, he’d have a different name so it wouldn’t matter anyway, they won’t be able to find him. I do have his address if anybody wants it, but anyway. So I got hired, I was a young copywriter, and they taught you nothing about anything. But I actually had in my spec book, which I did myself, I had one ad that they liked at Ted Bates. And they said they hired me because of this. They used to have a book called Europe on five dollars a day, that was a big, big book back then. My ad was a little kid holding a plate of Ravioli and it said “Italy on 59 cents per day”.

Lorenzo: That’s pretty good.

Bill: And I had another one for Eastern Airlines that was “somebody up there likes you”, that was the tagline. And it turned out that Y and R won the Eastern Airlines account two years later with that line. And I, to this day, I think they stole it.

Lorenzo: Of course they did!

Bill: Well guess what? Y and R and Eastern Airlines are both kaput. So there ya go.

Lorenzo: The Brand Brothers always prevail.

Bill: Yeah, yeah. Okay, so Schwatka was actually a little older than me, he’d been hired by Froelick. Froelick at that time was in his 40s, and Froelick had actually been hired by the real Don Draper who was a guy named Rosser Reeves.

Lorenzo: As the kids would say, these are the original gangsters.

Bill: So I was in Schwatka’s office on the 29th floor and Froelick walked in and he had on a suit, a whole Ivy league thing like the mad men, he had a pink ivy league button down shirt, and he walked in and said to Schwatka “hey, give me a cigarette”, because everyone was smoking in those days.

Lorenzo: As you do.

Bill: And he walked in and he said “who are you?” And Schwatka says “this is Bill Schley” and Froelick says “Okay, Schley. I’m an ad Big. I’m an ad Big in this business” and he walked out. He was kidding, because Froelick was always the funniest guy in the whole world.

Lorenzo: Was that his way of saying I’m kind of a big deal and my apartment smells of rich mahogany?

Bill: He picked up my spec book right off the desk and flipped through it, flip, flip, flip, no good, no good, no good, oh, that one’s not bad. He says to Schwatka “fire him.” and Schwatka says “We’re trying to hire him!” he goes “Oh, okay. You can’t fire him.” and he walked out. And they did hire me for the 59 cents a day ad.

Lorenzo: So Froelick was hired by the real Don Draper?

Bill: Yeah, and actually at the Four Seasons bar. But the one thing that Schwatka told me is “when I first came to ted bates everybody talked about this great book called ‘reality in advertising’, this amazing book from this amazing genius. His name was Rosser Reeves and he was everything: he was the guy that created the agency and all of the stuff that we stand for, it’s the biggest agency in the world. The guy’s the greatest copywriter that ever lived. Here’s his book, it’s fantastic” and Schwatka said “what happened to him?” and the guy says “oh, he got fired.” That’s what advertising like back then.

Lorenzo: So for our friends, Rosser Reeves is the guy who Don Draper is based on.

Bill: Thank you for bringing me back to the point. So yeah, Rosser Reeves, and for anyone who likes this show look up Rosser Reeves and you’ll see on Wikipedia or somewhere… We found out later that Matthew Weiner, who was a producer of this show and the writer and the creator of mad men actually told Rosser Reeves’ daughter, who we found as another part of the story later on to get his book republished, that Rosser Reeves was really the Don Draper. We’re always wondering what we’re going to get sued for, maybe this is the first time we get sued. But everybody talks about this. Now, Rosser Reeves started Ted Bates, that was the agency, and if anyone ever heard of “better living through chemistry”, which was the Dow chemical slogan for years. “Dow chemical- better living through chemistry.” And then of course they created Napalm, which of course wasn’t so good for better living, but that’s a whole other story. Yeah, Rosser Reeves was apparently in college and he was taking a chemistry course and he was flunking, and so instead of doing the course he wrote this little paper called “Better living through chemistry”, and that’s how talented Rosser was. He got a gentleman’s C, because all those guys did but then they went to Madison Avenue, so… But Rosser wrote this book, and it’s really the greatest book, and we’re going to talk to some of you folks out there about some of the great books because you can learn a lot from these great books. This is the best book ever on finding that one thing that you stand for and Rosser was revolutionary in his time because he invented this thing called the USP.

Lorenzo: The book is called Reality in Advertising.

Bill: It’s not a very glamorous title, but Rosser, remember, had the biggest clients in the world and he was writing it to give it to his clients.

Lorenzo: I’ll tell you right now, though, my personal story with this book is that when you and I first met, you gave me an out of print copy. It was out of print! So if you tried to Amazon it it would be 300 dollars to buy this book, and I cherished it, I slept with it under my pillow.

Bill: Did you really? Did you bring it on board the airplane as your service animal?

Lorenzo: It was my protection. I said “hey everyone, I work for the same team. USA!”

Bill: Good, good. Emotional support book.

Lorenzo: It was. And I’ll never forget one of the intro lines, and I’m gonna try to quote it because you quoted it and I loved it.

Bill: Wait, wait, I have to put my seatbelt on for this because I will still get emotional if you say this.

Lorenzo: Well, to me, he summarized it, this is what good branding and marketing is. “In ancient times, when Cicero spoke, the people said how well he spoke. But when Demosthenes spoke, the people said ‘let us march.’” And I just thought “that is the power of a great brand.” It will move you into action. And this is how he starts the book! And you feel like the rocket ship is just taking off from there.

Bill: Hey Lorenzo, can you die of goosebumps? My goosebumps hurt now! They hurt. My clothes are breaking.

Lorenzo: And at the time I thought, “it’s out of print, I’m the only one that’s gonna know this knowledge”. But now, thanks to you and Graham, everyone can have it. That’s later in the story.

Bill: Well, I was lucky enough to learn from these guys. Bob Froelick, the ad Big, he was actually hired by Rosser Reeves. It kinda sounds like a soap opera name, Rosser Reeves.

Lorenzo: I love it.

Bill: And Rosser had the cigarette and the glass of scotch, just like they all had, and I think David Ogilvy, he was David Ogilvy’s uncle as a matter of fact. So these guys all knew each other, but David Ogilvy who was very famous said he learned every single thing he ever learned from uncle Rosser. The reason why Rosser didn’t become as famous as Ogilvy was because he never wanted his name on the side of the building. He could’ve easily been. He was the biggest advertising guy in New york, and he sold more, using the great principles of the USP, which stands for Unique Selling Proposition, Rosser Reeves sold more toothpaste, more beer and more cigarettes because you could sell cigarettes in those days, more antacids, more bread, more cupcakes, more insurance, I mean if anyone ever heard of Prudential, get a piece of the rock, those were Ted Bates lines, than anyone in the history of advertising. Rosser Reeves and his agency using these principles.

Lorenzo: Now, Bill, correct me if I’m wrong, but he was also the first guy to sell a president.

Bill: You know, I think that’s right. And by the way, on Mad Men, remember when they go, and it’s Nixon, I think, and this is an incredible story, Richard Nixon, the guy who resigned for all you young listeners out there, resigned during watergate, he was the great advertising guy and Richard Nixon used him to market his campaign and campaign politicians didn’t do that until later on. I think Abraham Lincoln had a big agency right?

Lorenzo: They said bigger hat. He needs a bigger hat.

Bill: Yeah, yeah they said get him the other hat, will ya?

Lorenzo: But for our listeners, we will have in future episodes, one just on how politicians use branding and marketing. That’s just a little teaser for things ahead. So in the book, he talks about the pulled and the unpulled. It’s one of my favorite parts of the book, and also he’s almost part scholar, he’s almost part poet when he’s writing. Rosser, he’s just so, not dramatic, but so poetic in everything he does.

Bill: Well, they knew about the classics, they knew about history, they knew about all these things. That’s another story about these early agencies and how these guys came about, and they had a sort of preppy Ivy league attitude, because they were all putting on the attitude that they were very smart and this business is a venerable, honorable business of great minds, and we’re doing great work, but really all they were doing was trying to collect money from clients. One more thing about Rosser, he hired Bob Froelick, who was my boss and he hired him at the Four Seasons, it was a famous thing. So Froelick was a young guy and he worked at chemical bank.

Lorenzo: By the way, this is my favorite story.

ill: This is a true story. He worked at chemical bank, and Rosser had a southern gentleman’s accent because he was from Virginia. And he thought he was just going to hire Froelick, and he said that he was going to pay Froelick, I think it was 6,000 dollars a year, and Froelick said “but sir! I make more than that now! I mean, I have a family! I make more than that today!” And Rosser said “son, I’m offering you riches and glory beyond your dreams of avarice.” And Froelick said okay and eventually became a legendary guy himself. Froelick was the guy that came up with vapor action for Hall’s mentho-lyptus, made it the number 1 selling brand in America. Because someone gave him one to try and he said “oh, it smells like Vick’s vapor rub!” That’s how these things got made. Hall’s with vapor action. He came up with “get a little closer with Arrid extra dry”, and that’s because he was sitting next to a guy on the plane who stunk. Get a little closer, he said “boy, I wish he had deodorant”. But these are legendary campaigns. He came up with imagine manicures for palm oil. Softens hands while you do dishes.

Lorenzo: What was the story about, he walked a client through the floor and said “do you see all these people”?

Bill: There were a couple of stories. On Monday, Froelick used to arrive late at around 10:30 in the morning and would leave a smidge after 4 every day, sometimes earlier. That was a full day. And I remember I was working late because I was a cub. See, I wasn’t a mad man. I want to make that clear right now.

Lorenzo: You were a Padawan learner.

Bill: I was a baby hire, I was not a Mad Man. But those were the real Mad Men and I was there to see them. They all died, they were dropping like flies when I was there. They all had cirrhosis of the liver and they all had heart attacks and stuff, they smoked, it was crazy. But they were really really good at creating these brands, that’s for sure. They knew how to sell. And they believed in selling. Let me just back up one second. If you go to Ogilvy’s book, and it’s a great great book, which is Confessions of an Advertising Man, and you can buy all these books today, folks out there. And you’ll see all the ads, he shows you all the great ads, like the famous one for Rolls Royce. “In the Rolls Royce, at 60 miles per hour, the loudest thing you’ll hear is the ticking of the clock.”

Lorenzo: Natural salesman.

Bill: But every single ad had a selling idea. You can see it. Every single ad had a brilliant reason for you to buy something. And you look up this stuff now and you can’t even find the product, right? This is fake branding. But those guys believed it, and to them the most creative thing you could do was to make that product the most interesting thing in the commercial.

Lorenzo: Which is also the hardest thing.

Bill: It’s the hardest thing but it’s what you get paid for. If you’re a marketer, if you get paid to do that, you’re paid to sell something, you’re paid to put people in motion to want you product. Not to just create awareness, not to put a bear in a pink tutu dancing on the roof of your house, you’ve got to give them some reason to buy.

Lorenzo: You always said that, I think it was a quote from either Froelick or Rosser, which is “the hardest thing to do is make a really great product interesting”.

Bill: Oh man, now this is just a whole other show, listen. This gets crazy. That was the guy who wrote the Ginsu knife commercial, that’s Arthur Schiff. He’s gone to heaven, just like Rosser. That’s a whole other ball game. We’re gonna have to talk about the Ginsu knife. But the whole thing was that Froelick would come in on Mondays, and he’d always been to some mansion or some place with his friends from Princeton. On one he came back, it was 1:30 in the morning and Froelick was walking down the hall and he had a look on his face like he was on acid. But I mean, a good acid trip. He was just blissful, it was bliss. And it was coming out of every pore of his body was bliss. It was glowing and he had his brown suit, and his tie, and all his things.

Lorenzo: He had been to the top of the mountain.

Bill: He had been to the mountaintop, and it was like his feet weren’t touching the ground. And he floated towards us, it was the most incredible thing, and me and Shwatka and Bayless were watching him and he stops. And he said “you know this weekend I was at the shore with Wicky and Sticky and Dicky, my friends from Princeton. It was raining and so we couldn’t go outside, we were confined to the great room, where they built a fire down on the Jersey shore. And they had invited a guest, unbeknownst to me they had invited a guest, and we were confined. We couldn’t get out of the space, we were confined to be there, of courtesy, for the whole weekend. And as the guests started to talk we realized this guy was an asshole. And I was thinking ‘how can i possibly stand this for 24 hours?’ But I steeled myself, I did my duty, my social duty and i stayed in honor of Sticky and Wicky and Dicky and then we realized, when I woke up on Sunday morning I had an epiphany. I realized, he’s such an asshole… It’s a thing of beauty! This is the Mona Lisa! This is the aurora borealis of assholery! And I was bewitched! I felt my soul! My soul left my body! And for the rest of the weekend it was marvelous! It was marvelous to behold this incredible asshole!”

Lorenzo: None of us will ever be that lucky.

Bill: And then Froelick, he just… walked away. He drifted away. And we sat there and said, “unbelievable”.

Lorenzo: And that’s why, for our branding familia, sometimes when we see something of utter stupidity, it’s beautiful. It would be the aurora borealis.

Bill: You can’t get mad. I’ll tell you, honestly, I thought I’d seen a lot of lows in advertising. When they had the Budweiser clydesdale lift up its tail and blow flatulence into the blonde’s face, and then they said that that was why you want to drink our beer, I don’t know what it was. I thought that was one of the lows. But when AT&T came out with the power of and, that was a thing of beauty. It’s so bad that it’s actually good. The other thing was when Froelick came in another day like that, he said “you know, when I got out of the Navy I decided I’d take six months off and I’d write the great American novel. So I holed up in one of the great houses that my family owned and I toiled and I worked and I toiled until one day I realized, ‘I have absolutely nothing to say!’”

Lorenzo: The beginning of all great books.

Bill: “So I went into advertising.” These are true stories.

Lorenzo: So, what I love about the story of Reality in Advertising is that like a lot of good things in the world, it was forgotten. It went out of print, and I think that one of the credentials that you have, one of the goods that you’ve done for the universe, is bringing that book back into print. Because when we get to our takeaway of the day, we will recommend that people go out and buy this book. If you want to know the origin of the principles that the Brand Brothers operate on, they can be found in that book.

Bill: They can, and the interesting thing too is that when people read it you’ll see that the way he writes it, the writing is so engaging and so fast and so fluid. You can see you’re reading something written by one of the greatest copywriters of all time. And it’s interesting, it’s engaging. And they were writing it for clients. They already had all the biggest clients, they had Procter and Gamble, they had Colgate, they had all the big, big companies. But they were always trying to get new business and keep the business that they had. That was in the day where people didn’t write a lot of books, and they had this Reality in Advertising. It’s very interesting, for a lot of people that read it today it’s dated because you’re talking about things back in the 1960s. You’re talking about toothpaste and things. But the principles are timeless, absolutely timeless.

Lorenzo: That’s what i love, is that if it worked for toothpaste it can work for your company. It doesn’t matter.

Bill: Did you know that even then, in 1961, Rosser was fighting the forces of fake branding? He called them the imagists, or the image sellers. The people who are selling emotion, selling vague images and Rosser believed in being the differentiator. Rosser believed in find a difference that makes someone’s life better, and find the most dramatic difference that you can and make those differences be so different and exciting that it inspires the prospect or the customer to create emotion because you’re gonna solve a problem that they want solved so much.

Lorenzo: Was it Rosser’s daughter that told you the story of her father saying that “I hired these people to move products”, or was it “to not change any copy”, I forget that.

Bill: I’m not sure, but that’s a true story. Supposedly Rosser, see, because the clients always suspect the advertising guys as spending all their money and making too much money. That’s why the advertising guys didn’t want to look too ritzy and rich off the client’s money. They were a little bit threadbare, but you know they were all backing up the Brinks truck, and trying to carry away as much money as they could. So one day the client said to Rosser Reeves “how come I see that there’s always 50 people working on my product! On my advertising!” and he said “I employ all those people to keep them from changing your USP.” Because the problem was, and people ask me all the time “when is it right? When does a brand get old? When does it need to be refreshed or changed?”

Lorenzo: And Rosser Reeves would say never.

Bill: Now, that’s something we have to talk about today. Brands lasted longer in those days. We didn’t have the crazy accelerating technology we have now. There’s some times when you have to change your brand. That’s a good thing to talk about at some point. But so many people, the reason they change their brand because of new CMO disease.

Lorenzo: Chief Marketing Officer.

Bill: Thank you, I’m being reminded. Chief Marketing Officer. The big executives that run companies. A lot of times they change because you have a new CMO and the CMO just says “it’s not invented here, I’ve got to have something that my stamp is on” so they do it. The thing is that all these famous stories about someone will go out in the street and interview people and say “did you see the Bluebonnet beer commercial” and they go “oh yeah! It’s great, I just saw one.” And they’ll say “well, tell me about it” and the guy will tell them about the dancing bear that sings the jingle. This happens all the time. Well it turns out that that dancing bear singing the jingle hasn’t been on for 20 years, but it’s so ingrained in their heads that when they think of that beer they think about the USP. People think that your brand wears out with people, but the fact of the matter is it would take your lifetime and everybody else’s lifetime for the most part to have a great brand wear out because it still stands for something great and it’s this thing you’re famous for, and people love their brands! Once a brand’s in their head, people don’t want it to change.

Lorenzo: But also I think if you’;re a company and you’re still dominant in your category you should never change it. I think when you have to change it is when you’re getting disrupted and you’re not number 1 anymore.

Bill: Okay, let me give you some examples. You can refresh it, you can create different kinds of advertising campaigns, and that’s done all the time. So you could have new commercials, new campaigns, but if you’re still gonna be the world’s safest car, or the world’s most convenient bank, you want to come back to those kinds of things. Or the way enterprise says “we’ll pick you up.” They’re still the non-airport car rental company even though they got to be bigger than Hertz. But they still want to own that difference and that piece of real estate in people’s minds. When do you have to change it? You have to change it when the industry changes, let’s say. Sometimes the industry just gets disintermediated. It means something comes in, a new disruptive technology comes in and your industry isn’t relevant anymore and you’ve got to do a pivot to stand for something new.

Lorenzo: Ahem, Blockbuster.

Bill: Well, Blockbuster’s one of them, even again we talk about Rackspace a lot. Rackspace was in the managed hosting business, they had servers on racks. And all of a sudden the cloud came in, they couldn’t be the number one hosting service on racks anymore.

Lorenzo: But I’ll tell you another Rackspace example that I felt when I was there. Our category was always customer service, and I think at some point, there were a lot of, like CMO disease, there were a lot of tech people that said “customer service isn’t as sexy as technology”, and so they wanted to rebrand under tech and we just went “we’re not dominant for that. We’re dominant for customer service.” And I feel like there are so many political agendas at times that drive it.

Bill: There are. The point is, you want to do it as a last resort, if you have a great one. If you have one that has you famous for a dominant position and you’re delivering that thing. But let me give you another example. Sometimes there’s a disaster. Now, this is one of our big takeaways, you listeners out there, which is the brand is not what’s in your head and what you say it is. The brand is what’s in other people’s heads. That’s what you stand for. The famous thing with whole foods. Whole foods talked about we’re this wonderful, organic store for everyone. Well, for a huge segment, they used to call it whole paycheck, because it was so expensive you couldn’t afford it. Now, for a huge segment of the population, whole foods was the expensive store that I can’t afford to go to. That was their brand- it wasn’t this whole food organic market. So it’s what’s in other people’s heads that’s important. Now, it’s a sad story, but there was a case years ago where an Air Florida jet took off in a snowstorm in Washington DC. It’s a long time ago now, thankfully, but it took off in  a snow storm from Washington DC national airport, it got up about 500 feet and it crashed right into the 14th street bridge. There were two or three survivors, but the tail of Air Florida was sticking out of the icy Potomac river for three days. And it was the biggest news story worldwide, was Air Florida, the beautiful, happy, sunny Florida tail, Air Florida, sticking out the river and there were a hundred dead bodies inside. So let’s say they got about a billion dollars worth of negative advertising in two days, worldwide. Now, forever after, they can’t go back an advertise Air Florida anymore on TV because what Air Florida stands for is burned into people’s minds worldwide forever. A tail sticking out of the icy river and dead people. There is no way, no amount of commercials, no amount of advertising, no amount of USPs can change that brand. And so, at that point, you do have to change your brand. What they did was they changed it to AirTran. Now, wait to back that up even, they changed it to Valujet, and that’s another story too but they did change it, but they couldn’t be Air Florida from that day on. So there are times when you do have to change that brand. But Rosser Reeves would say it’s like these little trees that grow out of the ground and they grow and grow and become giant oaks, and it takes years and years for that, why would you chop them down just when they’re about to flourish? So we don’t want to change our brand too often.

Lorenzo: So, for our branding familia out there, I think that if you’re interested, you can get it on Amazon, Reality in Advertising by Rosser Reeves.

Bill: This is why. We went out, the Brand Brothers went out and some other Brand Brothers that won’t necessarily be named, we went out and we actually found Rosser Reeve’s daughter, the book had been out of print for 30 years, and we found her and we convinced her to let us republish the book, which we did, as a labor of love. And i want you to know we don’t make a dime from it. We make no money from it. We did it for the cause, this is the cause of great branding.

Lorenzo: It’s because we’re on a mission from God.

Bill: We’re on a mission from God. So that means, from now you can buy it paperback and I think it’s an audio book. You can buy it paperback for $9.99 on Amazon, so there you go. Reality in Advertising by Rosser Reeves.

Lorenzo: You wanna try the takeaways? The takeaway of the day.

Bill: Wow, what’s our takeaway of the day?

Lorenzo: Well I think the takeaway of the day is: do you have a  USP? Go write down what your Unique Selling Proposition is and if you don’t have one, then you know what your homework assignment is.