Wrong, wrong, wrong. And once more, just for good measure.
Once upon a time I was fired. Again.
I’d been writing ads for agencies in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and New
York. For almost twenty years.
Then one day I found myself writing them in the sometimes sleepy, sometimes far from sleepy little city of Marion, Ohio.
How I got there, what I did there, and all the rest of it makes a rather interesting story. At least to me. Although Gertrude Stein famously said,
“There’s no there there,” don’t believe it for a minute. She sure wasn’t talking about Marion, Ohio.
Read on, gentle reader, read on...
Even that wasn’t all that horrible; my boss offered to cancel the firing, but I told him to forget it. Who wants to work for a guy who’s just fired you?
So that day I was on my way to my new job at Grant Advertising. Good job, good agency. Things looked terrific. But how was I to know that in a year I’d be transferred to the Detroit office to work on the big Dodge account?
And how was I to know we’d lose the account within days and transfer me to the New York office?
And how was I to know that New York would be fun for a while and then a pain in the neck?
And how was I to know—?
Well, you get the idea. And I hope you enjoy coming along.
You’re an advertising copywriter in the days when advertising was if not king, at least somewhere close by in the royal court. You’ve got thirteen years of good work with good agencies behind you and the same wife you fell in love with twelve years ago. Plus three young sons with healthy appetites. To say nothing of a mortgage to match.
So what’s the problem? Three problems:
(1) I was fired several months ago; (2) I’m thirty-nine; (3) and the industry calls me “over-qualified.” That’s shorthand for “too old.” At 39! Ye gods--
Ah, but all isn’t lost. Eventually, due to luck, an accident of timing, and the intercession of various saints--plus the fact that I’m pretty good at what I do--I’ve just landed a fantastic new job.
With one of the biggest agencies in the business.
Writing ads for Coca-Cola, the best-known brand around.
With good money, nice title, promising future, the works.
Wonderful, right? Right.
Except that all that good news was going to give birth to headaches the size of which I could only imagine...
-- The Great American Novel that never got written--
-- A young writer’s introduction to big-agency advertising--
-- Ads and commercials and clients and bosses--
-- Hits and misses and triumphs and catastrophies--
-- A lovely young lady who became a supportive wife and mother--
-- Three young sons who kept both parents hopping--
-- Garrets and apartments and dream houses in the suburbs--
-- And an interesting look at America in the ’50’s from a front-row seat in the advertising that helped propel it. How it worked and didn’t work, scored and struck out, rewarded and punished, and just about everything else.
1. I spent about forty years writing ads and commercials for various advertising agencies, and for about 85% of that time I absolutely loved it.
2. For the other 15% of the time, I absolutely hated it.
3. But in spite of the disasters involved in that 15%, I wouldn’t have traded jobs with anyone. Not even the President of the United States.
But why in the world had I chosen to do it all in Minneapolis? Beats me.
Minneapolis, as you probably know, is in Minnesota. And Minnesota means unusual weather, to say the least. In June—which is when I decided to take the job—there are several wonderful days. Maybe four or five. But the rest of the time it’s mostly winter. With snow up to your ears and the thermometer plunging helplessly.
And that was only the beginning of the problems...