June 24, 2014

The Simpsons

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Oh, you poor people.

Because I was the "Wang" guy, I got to visit every office in which a Wang was installed. Forget the United States, my favorite station was Sydney, Australia. The fog in my mind forbids remembering how many years ago when I first met "The Simpsons."

(Background: Mojo was perhaps the most famous of all Australian ad agencies. Think Foster Beer. We merged. We drank. We merged.)

My contact was the great Mojo CFO, Jeff Simpson. He couldn't have been nicer. And his wife, Julie: I don't pass compliments around easily, but I asked her if she and Jeff would join me on a trip to Tahiti. I can think of few people who would refuse me. They did. I remain bereft.

I spent a few weeks there at the Manley Beach Hotel and (Jeff and Julie know what's coming next) they made scrambled eggs that were so bad the entire nation should have been banned from the U.N. (Lovely country. I got to pet a kangaroo. But they don't know from eggs.)

As they grew up, each of the children (Adam and Clair) came to NY to have their "Uncle Steve" give them their tour of NY, separately; I had one day with each of them. I took them to the most famous sites in NY. Including, as the grand finale, The Dakota apartment building. I sat them down (after walking their feet off for an entire day) on a park bench across from the Dakota.

I teased them. "What happened here?" They knew from John Lennon, but "Rosemary's Baby," they have been sheltered. What a loss. I worry about Australia.

I digress. I have received a long update about the comings and goings about a family that played a very important place in our company history.

Recap: Jeff (CFO of Chiat/Day/Mojo), Julie (His darling wife), and their children, Adam and Clair.

Plus, after 20+ years, they remain dear friends of mine: Enjoy. And now, I proudly present: The Simpsons:
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From Jeff:

Here is some info on the productive Simpsons (aka Adam - his wife Amy - and Clair). They are each in their early thirties. Clair is the eldest.

Clair is and completed her Bachelor of Education graduating in November 2013. She is currently working at a local primary school on a part time basis. She has a great passion for helping young children to learn - and not just in formal education. Clair also teaches swimming 3 evenings a week, both kids and adults. This ranges from junior learn to swim and water safety programs to advanced stroke technique. Clair took up ocean swimming in her mid 20's and regularly participates in ocean swims from 1 to 5 kilometres. Clair swims at least once a week with a group of distance swimmers. She is also known to her close friends as "Clair fish". Whilst completing her degree Clair moved home with us at Narrabeen (on the beach, conveniently). She is single (and available!) Clair loves all sports and participates and watches as much as she can. Clair and I are very passionate supporters of our local rugby league team (The Manly Sea Eagles, Manly is a locale and not a description of their sexuality). Clair and have "season tickets" to attend the Sea Eagles home games at our local stadium.

Adam is a passionate musician who has to work to pay for his passion. He tried Marketing and Advertising at University but drank too much beer to pass his exams. He has worked very hard at his music and achieved excellent academic results at high school in his formal music studies. He is a drummer, writer and arranger. He has been in a number of bands and loves performing. His current band have a very popular stage act (it involves zombies and beards which both seem to be popular at the moment). This band is called "Gay Paris" and to try to label them is difficult - edgy, hard rock will suffice. They recorded one album and have another on the way. They are going to San Francisco in July to record their new album at a specialist studio with the guy who came to Australia to produce their first album. (www.gayparis.com.au). The band has performed all over Australia in the last three years, in capital cities and major regional cities. They have a faithful following in some of our more industrial cities (not sure of a US equivalent). Adam fills in time between gigs working for the Australian Performing Rights Association which is owned by the major record companies and which collects royalties on behalf of music artists and composers. I am sure there is an American equivalent. In addition to their "baby news" Adam and Amy have just bought an apartment in the inner western suburbs of Sydney. They move in on Tuesday 6th May. He is at a very exciting stage of his life.

Amy [editor's note: Amy is Adam's gorgeous wife] is a wonderful person, but I guess you know that having met her. Amy is an Associate Editor at Elle Magazine and loves her work. Amy graduated with a Psychology degree from Sydney University and has spent most of her career as a writer/journalist. Amy combines her love of fashion and beauty with great writing skills and confident presence. She is a natural on TV and has done a number of "expert interviews" on the world of fashion and beauty trends/fads for national networks.She has travelled extensively and has spent time in New York, Milan, London, Paris and Hong Kong. Adam and Amy met through a mutual friend, fell in love, then fell out of love and went their separate ways for about five years. They met again in 2007, fell in love again and became engaged whilst on holiday in Lake Como in Italy in 2011. They married in a wonderful celebration in the gardens of a 5 acre property in mountains to the west of Sydney. In February this year Amy confirmed that she is having a baby in September, much to the absolute delight of everyone, especially her parents in law.

Please see enclosed a photo of the five of us and one of Adam and Amy.

I hope you have seen winter through OK and the allergies aren't too bad.

All the best.


Jeff and Julie Simpson

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Adam and Amy

June 23, 2014

Almost Australia

Blast it! I have a whole story planned about the Simpsons. Jeff Simpson was the CFO of Mojo in Australia, which Jay bought in his disastrous acquisition frenzy.

Unless you were in involved in the Mojo acquisition, you never got to meet their amazing CFO, Jeff Simpson, or his wife, the spectacular Julie Simpson, or their children Adam and Clair, who are all grown up. I will provide details.

I also have a piece coming about David Butler, who has a colleague relative you will all recognize. But first I have to get something I have on my chest. I posted it on Facebook earlier tonight. (The Simpsons and Dave Butler are more important to me, but I had to respond) And thus:

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Saturday, June 21st, was "Jay/Day," the day those of us who worked for the brilliant, quixotic man Jay Chiat, founder of Chiat/Day Advertising, were supposed to go out and repay Jay's many kindnesses to US by doing something caring for anyone in need of the type of inspiration Jay inspired in all of us. (These are the tenets: http://www.jayday.org/jayday.html)

Instead I found myself being kicked out of a FB group run by Laura Sweet, who also worked at Chiat/Day. She runs her own page on Facebook and the topic for the day was "The Open Office." Jay was notorious for believing that creativity came out of chaos, and so he was an early proponent of the "open office," in which the lack of doors was thought by him to inspire free form creativity. Some hated it. Others loved it. (I can't tell you how thrilling it was that I, a peon in 1977, got to meet some of the eventual icons of the industry, all because I could walk by their office and say "hi" when they were not busy.)

But others, admittedly, were not advocates. Some hated it. I think it was a problem in LA because the employees had been used to Frank Gehry's wonderful warehouse. But the "Binocular" building was much more problematic because the building already existed and had to be retrofitted. People had to be squeezed into tight spaces. The New York office was a different story. It was designed from the ground up by the great architect Gaetano Pesce. It not only didn't have any doors, it didn't have any offices. It was a mish-mosh of cafes, small workstations, "bubbles" (small conference rooms) and an area for personal lockers where you kept your personal belongings. It was quite an adjustment. It took months for people to calm down. But in the end, we sensed the overall experience was not the nightmare people had expected.

(True story: when Omnicom bought C/D and Bill Tragos from TBWA took over, he demanded his OWN bathroom. Eve Luppert, our HR director and (along with me and Laurie Coots) was one of the implementers of the Virtual Office was outraged. Remember how colorful the resin floors of the office were? Gaetano built Tragos his own bathroom. But the colors of the resin of the floor? Brown and yellow. I don't think Tragos ever got the joke.)

I am saddened that former colleagues (or some who had bad "open office nightmares" elsewhere), like Laura Sweet, Rich Siegel, Becca Morton, Diane Pirie Cockerill, Brad Gantt, Paul Stenquist, Brian Jay Miller, Melanie Monteiro, and Christie Cordes, are so bitter. (I'm even more sorry that Laura Sweet chooses who she wishes to allow to comment or not. Jay would have a conniption.)

I personally, will ALWAYS be grateful that I worked for Jay Chiat. He challenged us beyond our ability to be comfortable with his ideas. And he would be MORTified (get it? "Morton" was his real first name) that some of you use snarkiness or banishment to debase his achievement, or silence those, like me, who tried to achieve his dream. At least HE TRIED.

Steve Alburty
Chiat/Day, 1977 to 1995

P.S. J.K. Rowling wrote "Harry Potter," with her daughter by her side, in a pub. (It's now a Chinese restaurant.) Talk about powers of concentration!

May 23, 2014

Robin Rotenier

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He was everybody's favorite Frenchman. Robin Rotenier worked in the accounting department in the late 80s/early 90s. He left to become a jeweler, which was no surprise, as he comes from a long line of jewelry designers. He met with wild success, eventually selling his work to stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

He was known as the King of the Cufflinks and once sold a pair with a ruby inlay for $9,800.

But on May 20th, he took a hammer, smashed his apartment window and jumped to his death. He left no note.

All of us who knew him mourn his loss. He was one of the sweetest people I have ever met.


http://tinyurl.com/ntbcsxr

May 09, 2014

Omnicom/Publicis coitus interruptus


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And they said it wouldn't last.

The proposed merger between the omnivorous Omnicom and the agency-most-likely-to-be-in-heat, Publicis, has been called off.

Rumor has it that they could not agree on who would be CFO. Or whether the liquid in the stagnant coolers should be called "eau" or "eeeuuuh" Parisians insisted on fluffy, flaky croissants. Omnicom just wanted dough.

The issue of trying to mesh different cultures was also cited. "Culture?" Who has a culture anymore?

Creativity and money and cultures would not have stopped a $35 Billion merger. The "CFO" issue is a ruse.

"Culture?" Oh, baby, you should have said goodbye to that decades ago when you decided to eat each others' young.

That happy sound you hear is that of a hundreds of people in accounting departments across the world closing their laptops and going out for a drink,

I long for the days when the work mattered.

Apparently, 2014 will not be 1984.

Craig Lambert


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Every few months, I am permitted to leave the grounds of my Fortress of Solitude. Such was the occasion when I was invited to have brunch with someone (should be there be an election) would win by consent as the nicest Account Director I've even known.

Craig Lambert worked in the New York office in the height of its glory in the 80s. From there, he went on to become the Managing Director of Modem Media.

But wait (as they say in the commercials) that's not all.

When I had brunch with Craig, he had morphed once again into an entirely new life and career - that of an elementary school teacher!

Here he is with his partner, Brad, who is a psychiatrist. (I'm keeping his contact info close to the vest, as a good psychiatrist is hard to find these days. And who knows when I may succumb to the vapors?)

Craig fixed lunch (a sort of egg-frittata-quiche thing) which was delicious. Brad supervised.

Might I say (of course I may, as I run this blog) that they have a spectacular home in Norwalk, but that Craig has entirely switched … careers. He has gone into teaching, and is now getting his Masters in Education. The last I saw him, he was getting his feet wet by actually teaching in elementary school.

If you remember Craig, you can well imagine how lucky many kids will be thrilled to say, "Good morning, Mr. Lambert!"

April 26, 2014

Pen 'n cycle

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I have a memory like tapioca pudding. I know I've had an amazing life, but certain memories elude me. So consider me gob-smacked when I saw the following picture on Facebook today. It's that scamp, Pen Pendleton, on a 1941 Harley, circa 1988, riding in the Warehouse.

It was a promotional film and Pen thinks it was scheduled to shoot when I was not in the office, for if you look carefully, the ramp upon he descends is from the "Wang" room. He thinks this shot may be have been accomplished when I was absent, for he fears I would have killed him. I asked if I could publish it here:

Of course! Since this was the entrance to your universe – and the most servers that any west coat agencies had at the time, I think we actually planned this shot before you got to work, or after you left for lunch (or was it breakfast?). Most creatives would not have bothered, but NOBODY wanted to piss you off!! And your co-workers were all mortified, as I recall. You held the keys to the kingdom, after all.

Or maybe it was not nearly as dramatic and we had your blessing, but when the truth is foggy, print the best story, right?


I like this story.

April 24, 2014

Donnie Everett

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Who is that man in the Chiat/Day t-shirt cleaning a toilet? At 79 Fifth, we all called him Donnie as in "Donald Everett." If you don't recognize him by his face (see below), you may remember his accent. Donnie was a "Southie," as in "South Boston." His accent was as thick as chowder.

From '83 to about '87, he worked in the mailroom, ordered office supplies, cleaned the office and took care of the "odds and ends" which often required attention at Jay's apartment.

He also did a lot of painting of office walls and cubicles. He was always putting up nameplates, sometimes for new hires and sometimes for departures. (He knew who was leaving before they did.) He says that sometimes he just took them down to paint a divider and would sometimes forget to put them back up. The employee would come back to their office, find their nameplate missing, and race to Eve in HR to find out if they'd been fired!

Donnie is extremely well read. In fact, Jane Newman once took up a collection to buy Donnie a Barnes and Noble gift card.

He now lives in Santa Monica. On March 22nd, he had knee-replacement surgery. After a lot of physical therapy, he is starting to feel better and better and says that the swelling has subsided to the point where he can actually see his kneecap again.

I salute Donnie because he was one of the wonderful characters who made C/D such a special company.

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Donnie

Scott Salmon and son


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If you worked in the New York office, you surely remember Scott Salmon. He was a print production manager (who worked for me) in the early 80s at 666 Fifth. I fired him (but more on that later.)

He eventually reappeared as a salesman for various printers and engravers. He was an almost daily visitor at 79 Fifth. He married Judy Zell.

He is now the General Manager at the Manhattan Plaza Health Club and is married to a lovely woman named Suzan. He comes up to the Catskills from time to time and brings me bags of groceries from my favorite store in the world, Trader Joe's.

Here he is from a visit from December, I believe. That's his son, Shayne, to whom Scott is absolutely devoted. Shayne is as smart as a whip and one of those rare children who can actually have a great conversation with an adult.

So why did I "fire" Scott back in the 80s? We had just lost an account, so layoffs soon followed. I had two guys who worked for me: Peter Franke and Scott. Peter had a wife and children. Scott was single. I figured he could bounce back more easily.

If you remember the offices at 666, there was no private space. The only room that had a door on it was the "light room" where we viewed proofs of pending print jobs. I took Scott into the light room and immediately burst into tears. I seem to recall that this made him laugh. I took it harder than he did.

I was so upset, that I spent my own money to take out an ad in AdAge entitled "Canned Salmon," in which I explained why I had had to lay him off and wouldn't somebody out there please give him a job?"

In two weeks, he got a job that paid him more money than I did.

He remains a dear friend to this day. He is one of the peppiest, funniest people I know.

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(Shayne turning the Emerson Lodge in Mt. Tremper into the Shaolin Temple.)

April 11, 2014

Carisa Bianchi


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Carisa Bianchi, the President of TBWA/Chiat/Day, is leaving after nine years. (That's 27 in "ad years.") She first became President in 2005, after a successful two-year stint running the San Francisco office.

She once wanted to work for the CIA, but wound up in advertising, which is pretty much the same thing. She first came to work at Chiat/Day in 1989. Perhaps the greatest account she ever worked on at Chiat/Day was what would become one of the most famous campaigns in advertising: the Energizer Bunny. It's still going. And going.

And, like the Energizer Bunny, Carisa herself is an avid runner.

She is so smart and talented, I like to fantasize that she is leaving to become Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, but that is only pure wishful thinking on my part! (Hillary, if you're reading this, give Carisa a ring.)

April 02, 2014

Peter Franke needs a job!

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One of the things I dislike about advertising is that you are always one phone call away from catastrophe. A client cuts its budget or fires the agency, and suddenly your colleagues are putting their things into cardboard boxes.

This is what happened recently to Peter Franke. On or about St. Patrick's day, he was laid off from Geometry Global, where he had been Director of Production.

Some of you may recall that before I became the tech guru of Chiat/Day, I was head of Print Production. Peter and Scott Salmon both worked for me and in early March, I drove into town to have lunch with them, where they bought me a steak with Béarnaise sauce. Then Pete lost his job. So this layoff affects me personally. I need Béarnaise.

So pull out your address books, talk to your CEOs and HR people and help find Peter a new job.

I have worked with many fine people in my career. Peter is one of the best. I've attached his resume.

Here are his own words about recent events:

P.S. He mentions "Diana," who is his amazing wife.

I left C/D in Nov 92 after we lost the AMEX acct.

I sat around healing for a month or two and was asked to try my hand at sales by a web printer.

I did the sales thing for a year and then got hired at Dentsu 
to fix their Creative services depts.

That only lasted a year but it is where I met Diana.

I plunged back into sales and did that at a few places for the next 8 years or so.

During that time in "97", I started my own printing company that quickly turned into a Production Management company. (Many small agencies didn't have a budget for a real Production Manager, so I did that role for them gratis, while I bought all their printing and marked that up to make a few dollars.)

Worked out great until 9/11! when all the small places went out of business one by one.

Soooo, I got back into production on the corporate side working at AETV first and then at AMEX for a total of 6 years or so.

Suddenly a big job on the agency side opened up and I jumped at it, G2, that turned into Geometry Global back in July.

I was building a nice department when suddenly 2014 S. O. W. came out with drastic cuts on the print/offline side. 

St Patty's day shows up & "nice to know you, here's your envelope" happens.

And that's the story.

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Download resume

Steve Gordon

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Every once in a while, an alum just pops into my head and I track them down to find out what they're up to. The other day, the name "Steve Gordon" started making a frequent appearance in my brain. He was a stitch, always making us all laugh, at the same time doing great work. Here's the bio I coaxed out of him:

I joined Perkins/Butler in 1989, which became Chiat/Day Direct, which was then folded into Chiat. But you knew that. After leaving Chiat in 1992 ( I made Eve Luppert chase around the 15th floor, yelling to her, "you can't fire me, if you can't catch me" She caught me.)

After that, I had a short stint at Bastoni Barnes, when I got a call from Tim Beck, who was the Head of IT at Kirshenbaum & Bond. They needed a Studio Manager. Eventually becoming VP/Director of Digital Services, or something like that. I was there from 1993-2002.  From 2002-2004, I had some jobs that I'd rather not think back on. In 2005, after going through a near-death experience with pneumonia (2 weeks in ICU, doctors telling my wife, Marlee they gave me a 30% chance to survive,) I starting working at DiMassimo (now DiMassimo Goldstein, or DIGO) as both Studio and Print Production.

In late 2008 I went to Cossette, again doing both Studio and Production, reuniting with Bill Oberlander who hired me at K&B. After 18 months Cossette closed their door in NYC. The next eight months were tough, finally hooking up with Gotham in 2011. After three fun years, I am now at Serino/Coyne, who specialize in Broadway Theater Advertising as Director Visual Assets.

I married Marlee in 2003. who has a son, Justin, now 24, from a previous marriage. Together, we have a 10 yr old daughter, Madison. And our pug, Monty. Moved up to Ardsley in Westchester in 1998.

I've done some traveling through the years- Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Africa-climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in 1999.

Had a few Harley's. But after getting hit by a car for the third time (nothing serious-more of an inconvenience) I gave it up for good in 2008.

I always look back at my time at Chiat as some of the best times I've had in the bushiness. I do remember one time when I got food poisoning from a Chiat Christmas Party and trying to send an company-wide email on the Wang system. But I hit the wrong button and sent the note about me getting sick as a fax to our clients. You came down, and smacked me in the back of my head, not too hard though. More of a love tap. I also am a proud owner of a Franke Award shirt (which I lost years ago) for "Most likely to leave work to see a Dead show". Which was true.

Anyway, I hope this fills you in from 1993-2014.


Jane Newman to be inducted into Hall of Fame

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Jane Newman imported the concept of Account Planning from the U.K. to the U.S. She is, for all intents and purposes, the mother of account planning (and I mean that in the nicest way!) When she started at Chiat/Day, nobody knew what Account Planning was. Now it's almost a required position at every agency and most account planners can probably trace their roots back to Jane.

For her extraordinary contribution, the she is being inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame on April 9th. She is the first planner to be so honored.

Here is the invitation, which is in itself a treat to read.

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