I have been asked why I love advertising so much, and where this love was rooted. Well, I remember the moments exactly, actually.
Back story: My mother’s side of the family lives in Milton, MA, so I spent my childhood in the way back of a station wagon (or whatever the car was of the moment), staring at the sites from NH to Boston. If you know the drive (and did it in the 1980s-1990s), then you might remember how long it was to a kid. Well, I remember something else. I remember the ads and billboards I passed along the way. Saugus, Route 1: the plastic cows and giant cactus at the Hilltop Steakhouse and the orange dinosaur, just at the road splits, at the mini golf place (that I swear use to be purple). As you enter the city and see the buildings, there was a giant inflated Pink Panther that sat on top of a building, and the multi-colored water towers, just as you pass the city behind. An ad with a model in a pair of jeans on the side of a building. My memory tells me it was Marilyn Monroe in Lee jeans, but I have Googled the thought to death and I can find no proof. My memory is that the ad read something along the lines of “Our models can beat up your models.” but as I said, I can’t actually prove that, and it may just be the memory of a six year old. However- whatever that ad said, and whoever was in it, it stuck. I loved everything about those bright shining images, and looked forward to them every holiday.
Fast forward to my sixteenth birthday. My mom, aunt and uncle took me to New York City. We did the whole “tourist” thing, and I feel like I saw everything. From our waitress in Planet Hollywood telling us a story about how this guy, who plays Opera man on SNL, won’t stop calling/bugging her roommate, FAO Schwartz, The Plaza, Central Park, getting my make-up done by a make-up artists of the stars (or so she claimed), and seeing a very nervous Steven Spielberg inside Saks Fifth Avenue (with a woman trying on shoes, who was NOT Kate Capshaw). And then: Times Square. At the time, Calvin Klein was making it’s mark, once again, with a scantily clad model. You might remember him:
It was amazing and I was captivated by it all.
When I was in college, one of my favorite classes talked about the history of advertising. It’s origin, the greats, the icons, the moment makers. I loved every bit of it. I didn’t know what I loved most about it, so I made a point to have an internship in every angle of it. Television, radio, newspaper, media buying, creative, etc. I majored in it. I LOVED it. This will add a little more merit to the reference I made one post back, regarding me falling asleep in the front row of a lecture, by a major agency CEO. I tried writing a letter of apology, it was ignored. Life lesson? I have no idea, but it’s probably best not to have a narcolepsy phase.
Outcome: my resume was awesome upon graduation, and I had a broad knowledge of the ins and outs of the field, but I wasn’t necessarily amazing at any one aspect of it. Most people focus on a specific thing, well I wanted it all. I guess it doesn’t really work that way, unless you are a savant, but I have never stopped loving it.
When I lived in Chicago, one of the most memorable moments of that time was in an elevator. I was in a building in River North, heading to a top floor for a meeting. The elevator stopped on a floor. The door opened and I saw this:
Tears started streaming down my face like a girl at a One Direction concert. It was not only bad timing, as I was on my way to a meeting, but it was unexpected. Quit crying like a baby, Katie! I had the same experience upon looking at the Leo Burnett building for the first time. I can honestly say that aside from the view in my apartment on Lake Shore Drive, the thing I loved most about Chicago was the cluster of amazing advertising icons who graced it’s streets throughout history.
As of today, I have been in the “marketing” field for over 15 years. Yes, I count the time spent in college because I was working my ass off! I still love it. It’s certainly changed, and I can’t say the greats of today have hit the mark with every ad, I can say that the people making it should know there is a girl in Maine always appreciating the people who founded it for us to love.
A common question people ask is “if you could have (fill in the activity- drink, dinner, etc) with one person, living or dead, who would it be?” Well, I think you know my answer: Leo, of course.
I might have to bring some tissues though, for he doesn’t strike me as the type who appreciates a good cry.