Hi Reddit! I am Dennis Howard, former marketing executive in the Mad Man era of advertising in NYC. I left NYU for a romantic career in journalism in 1949 and transitioned to Madison Avenue in 1963 as VP Marketing at Zakin Company, where I worked with Joy Golden, a true creative wonder. Moved to Barickman Advertising in '68 as Creative Director and later started my own agency, retiring in 1995 to start a non-profit, Movement for a Better America, in the hope of leaving the world a better place for my kids. It it has been 65 very exciting years and, thank God, I'm still going strong.

My son recently posted old pictures of me in my Madison Avenue days to r/OldSchoolCool and helped me set up this AMA.

I want to thank everybody for their questions. I've been on talk shows about advertising, but I've never had this much fun. If anyone wants to contact me, message me on Facebook. I'm start a new GenWhy campaign to wake up Gen X, Y and Z to their putdown as virtually anonymous generations. As if you were Brand X, Y and Z. Why should the Boomers and the Greatest Generation get all the headlines?

Album: http://imgur.com/a/f6wYX

Ask Me Anything!

Verification: http://imgur.com/9xSrQke

Comments: 152 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

Scottler29 karma

Congratulations on such an awesome career! Two questions...first, was the playboy lifestyle that seems so common on Mad Men as common in the real advertising scene of the 60s? Second, looking at how advertising has evolved, how would some of today's more risque ads have been received by management back then? Thanks!

DennisHoward34 karma

Playboy was '50's thru '60's thing. I think I went there once! But no question it had a big impact on changing mores at the time. Use of sex in advertising was more subliminal back then, unless you were reading a trucking or automotive tool magazine. Playboy clearly broke the mold, and things went downhill from there with imitators like Guccione. I interviewed Ralph Ginsburg once, and he was unequivocal about his drive to "destroy the American superego." Quite militant about it.

carraway20 karma

Er, wait.. am I drunk, or did this not really answer /u/Scottler 's question?

czarrie5 karma

No complaints. I am actually more satisfied with the non-answer.

DennisHoward18 karma

I meant both the magazine and the lifestyle -- and all that followed including tremendous growth in the porn industry, starting with the magazines. Before 1960, you didn't have to worry about the 6-year-old next door giving your 6-year-old a tour of the latest issue of Playboy. After that, you did. It had become a coffee table item. As for advertising, our ads are still fairly tame compared to what you see in Europe.

verbutten20 karma

Mr. Howard, I was surprised to see that your organization, Movement for a Better America, is from my perspective a very sensationalist anti-abortion advocacy group. Your views and mine are almost certainly diametrically opposed on the issue, but I would like to ask you this as it relates to your expertise as an ad-man:

What, in your opinion, has shaped the rapid changes in American attitudes towards abortion, same-sex marriage, anti-discrimination legislation and so on since the end of World War II? And is there much overlap between private-sector advertising and socio-political campaigning?

Thanks for your candor and this AMA.

DennisHoward6 karma

Well, thanks for your candor, too. I believe people can differ on fundamental issues without calling each other names. But to communicate they have to have some common ground, so that's what I look for when it comes to dialogue. I've got to give Margaret Sanger credit for being a great propagandist. It took her 60 years to get to Roe v. Wade, and it may take at least that long to reverse it. But her real breakthroughs came with Kinsey and Hefner in the 1950's and the Pill in 1960, a technological breakthrough which changed the way a great many people thought about pregnancy and childbirth. Before then, most women thought of pregnancy and childbirth in sacred, almost religious terms. And that's still why half the states only have 10% of all the abortions, and just six states have more than half of them. We are clearly a very divided country. What will ultimately change things is not anything you or I say, but the inevitable consequences of an abortion culture. It's just a fact that you can't abort 30% of the entire younger generation under 47 without suffering major consequences -- social, economic, and even global. Even China and Russia are recognizing this, while the Muslim world continues to grow at a rate 5x faster than countries in the West. Its only a matter of time before they overwhelm us unless we change the way we look at population growth. It's unquestionably a challenge one way or another. But head-shaking, finger-wagging and name-calling won't get us anywhere, so I don't do it. But, again, thanks for your honesty.

CaptainAmericaCup11 karma

Asking the obvious here - the show Mad Men has a very realistic quality to it from my limited knowledge of the time. While I'm aware that lots of drama is added to push the main story forward, how accurate are the people and events compared to your experiences?

Also - what was the first album you bought with your own money?

DennisHoward32 karma

Probably the music from My Fair Lady. When it comes to music, I'm really dated. What i saw of Mad Men was disappointing, so I didn't follow it regularly. It lacked the variety and color of Madison Avenue in the '60's. Every agency had its own character. I learned that when I shopped 10 different agencies before joining Zakin. Madison Ave was like a big NY neighborhood with 20 different ethnic varieties.

tadokorocchi9 karma

Do you have any advice for a young person who wants to go into marketing?

DennisHoward22 karma

It's a very different world today, so I would hesitate to give any strong advice beyond pursuing your own creative instincts wherever they lead. I really don't think much of most of the commercials I see on TV today, with some exceptions of course. And the internet has made it into a high tech numbers game. Marketing itself has been radically transformed. Products now go straight from China to Walmart, so who needs marketing?

rocn7 karma

Were there really women falling at your feet around every corner? Was it tough to resist temptation?

Was promoting women in the office really frowned upon and unlikely?

Were African-American employees bad for an agencies image?

DennisHoward11 karma

What movie are you watching? Generally, creative women did really well in the agency business. There were fewer on the account side, however. There was a move to hire more African-Americans in the late '60's, but it took longer for them to move up into creative or managerial jobs. As a writer for AT&T, I had to train my own replacement, who was black. For me, age discrimination became a factor after 55. That's a big problem, and we all have to face it sooner or later.

floridali1 karma

I guess s/he's referring to the episodes of Mad Men mostly.

So, do you think Mad Men's portrayal of women and African-Americans' struggle in the 60s is out of proportion? (Well of course, if you've been following the show). Clearly, in the show, women struggle at every stage of their careers in Manhattan while even the moderate white American males (like Don and Bert) are slightly racist.

DennisHoward7 karma

You've got to remember that educational opportunities for blacks in the '50's were limited, so few showed up to compete on Madison Avenue in the '60's. Token blacks were hired ostensibly to provide opportunities for blacks, but that in itself was discriminatory. The jobs often were low end jobs. That changed significantly in the '80's. The situation for women was quite different. They led in fields like fashion and department store advertising, and talented women like Joy Golden opened their own doors wherever they went. The feminists and the Cosmo "girl" had to stir things up for their own sake. Functions like AE's and top agency brass were largely male provinces however. But there was nothing to stop a woman from starting her own agency. I did that twice, once with a female partner.

TouchMyTooter7 karma

Hey thanks for doing this.

Were you and your colleagues/contemporaries/competition really drinking as much as the show portrays on a daily basis?

If so, how did you guys ever get any of that great iconic work done?

DennisHoward25 karma

The 1 or 2 martini lunch was pretty routine. Quite a few careers got sideswiped by booze & cigarettes. I've been off both for 44 years. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here. I think we made AA popular and then it hit Hollywood. The creative environment was quite intense and very much a team thing. By the way, there were a lot of bullshit agencies around, too. One client asked me to sit in when he was reviewing agencies, and I couldn't believe some of the crap I saw.

OppositeTalk1 karma

Out of curiosity, are you still an AA meeting attendee?

DennisHoward16 karma

I go less often these days because it has become an integral part of my daily life, but I needed every one of those 270 meetings I attended in my first 90 days. That may be a record, but Guiness doesn't track these things. My closest friends are AA buddies.

Frajer5 karma

What was your favorite ad that you did?

DennisHoward13 karma

Oh man, there were so many of them. We wrote tons of great ads for Toshiba when they playing catchup with Panasonic. I remember one great commercial Joy Golden did for Waring. She really knew how to weave narrative into an ad and make everyone love it. We took Waring from a 2% market share when Oster had 50% of the market, and eventually Waring split the #1 spot with them both with a 25% share. Results counted.

joshwahhh4 karma

In your opinion, can a person learn to be more creative? If so, how?

DennisHoward11 karma

Yes, I do think creativity can be learned. Children are naturally curious and creative. Unfortunately, by the time they reach 10, it has been taught out of them. A good creative exercise is "clustering" -- just start with one idea or image on a piece of paper, and then link every idea or image you can think to that central idea. I have used that to write and it really works. You know the job is done when you run out of associated ideas, But isn't that exactly the way our brain works anyway?

artmonkey13824 karma

I love advertising and design from the 60's. What do you think still allows that work to hold up 50 years later? Second, what do you think today's creatives could improve upon with their work (i.e. what do you see lacking in today's ad world)? Thanks for answering!

DennisHoward9 karma

What made the '60's great were the campaigns based on big ideas that captured the imagination of so many people . . . like the VW ads . . . and you had all these creative people striving to outdo that. The demise of big mass magazines had something to do with decline in creativity. Ditto for television, with 150 channels how is any single thing going to stand out? Who wants to put great ads on Naked and Afraid? And look at Facebook with 1.3 billion producers of content, and none of them get paid. We come back to writing advertisements for ourselves. Wasn't that a title of one of Norman Mailer's books? We still all want to be heard. Find a way to do that in your most creative way.

coconutwarfare2 karma

You should read Jaron Lanier. He wrote a couple books, I forget which one but he makes an argument that people on FB should get paid for their posts and thereby create an online economy that way.

DennisHoward4 karma

I think he's absolutely right. I've had the same thought. Why should 1.3 billion people donate their time and talent to FB. It's not a charity.

the1whoscored803 karma

What was your most memorable moment whilst working with Joy Golden?

DennisHoward9 karma

I had a Catholic magazine account, US Catholic, and we needed a new direct mail letter written. I was busy, so I asked Joy, who was Jewish, if she was willing to take a shot at it. She came back in an hour with a great letter. I was amazed, so I asked what her secret was. It turned she had a nanny as a kid who used to take her to novenas every Tuesday night, so she understood all about Catholics. I couldn't have a written a better letter myself, and I was once an altar boy.

beastjames3 karma

What is your most ludicrous story of giving the customer exactly what they want when you knew as an expert that it would fail miserably?

DennisHoward5 karma

I honestly can't think of any. Except possibly the Edsel. And some our most successful political candidates.

NOODL34 karma

This describes 98% of all meetings in the agency world.

DennisHoward6 karma

Some meetings were a total waste of time, especially when you added up the hourly billing rates of everyone in the room. But most creative meetings were generally productive. When you have a deadline, good answers have to come fast.

jesusandhisbeard3 karma

What advice would you give to a 21 year old for job interviews, successful work ethic and how to style one's self to create a lasting positive image on a client or employer?


DennisHoward7 karma

It's not just a question of style. That should flow from who you are. Be positive, confident about what you know, and back that with a willingness to work and study hard. Bullshitters want to win via willpower, but the real winners know the key is outsmarting the competition. Above all, listen. That way, you won't miss the clue that makes the difference.

jesusandhisbeard3 karma

Brilliant response :) Thank you for taking the time out and answering my question :) have a cracking day Mr Howard.

DennisHoward6 karma

Thanks, and say hello to Jesusandhisbeard for me!

KilgorePilgrim3 karma

What were the biggest/most surprising changes in the industry from when you started to when you retired?

DennisHoward9 karma

  1. The decline of the mass magazines, 2. The explosion in the number of channels on television, and 3. The internet revolution that's still going on.

aakime3 karma

Would you like to comment on the drastic changes that are happening around the world when it comes to technology?Your views about the changing means of advertising please?

DennisHoward19 karma

Technology is both a liberator and a destroyer. Back then, it took 15 skilled people to create one ad. Now we can all do it ourselves on a laptop. But the quality has suffered as the costs went down.

dogfish683 karma

Seems like you gave up a lot to start your non-profit, what was the general response to you leaving a lucrative career to support an issue that people feel so strongly about on each side of the argument?

DennisHoward13 karma

I am sorry to say that most people --including a lot of people who agree with me -- don't really give a damn. I do it because I believe so deeply in it. When you deliver one of your own kids and then you lose her 39 years later because her doctor didn't think a 39-year-old female could have a heart attack -- then you realize how precious and valuable every human life is. I could have made a million bucks in the last 20 years, but money isn't everything -- and far from being the most important thing.

throknil3 karma

Were there ever times you felt morally conflicted advertising certain products, and if so which ones?

DennisHoward10 karma

I never worked on anything I didn't agree with, but it's a major problem in advertising, especially when the cigarette and liquor ads were bigtime. If you want to know whether an ad is lying to you or not, just compare the visual with the disclaimers at the bottom of the ad. Usually the visuals show people full of life, health and joy, but the disclaimers will scare you to death. The Viagra and Cialis commercials are the best examples today.

redb4r0n3 karma

What's your most concise way to command someone's attention in the advertising world?

DennisHoward6 karma

FREE! is the still the shortest and most powerful word in advertising. You can go broke using it, however.

wigchert2 karma

Thanks for doing this ama! I'm a young designer for online advertising and dynamic retargeting banners who is just entering the whole advertising and marketing world!

Are there any tips regarding the creative process you can give me?

DennisHoward6 karma

The key to a creative genius like Joy Golden was her ability to stay in touch with her own deepest feelings. Creativity is not something you bang together with a hammer and nails. It takes a lot of self-honesty and openness to your own and other people's deepest feelings. It's a dance between intellect, imagination, and emotions. And for a designer, an innate sense of design and proportion is essential. A creative team has to have the same rapport. My best partner was a young art director who often came up with the headline and I had the visual. Our record was coming up with a new campaign concept within 30 seconds after the AE presented the problem to us. He didn't even have a chance to get out the door before we had the answer. That takes magic.

aakime2 karma

What did you do with your 1st earning?

DennisHoward6 karma

The first big check I got was $2500 for a major magazine project. I went right out and used it as a down payment on a house. My very first check was $25 for a magazine article. I should have framed it.

two_off2 karma

What was the biggest trick you pulled off against your competition in order to get a contract?

DennisHoward8 karma

Good question, but not one I can answer in 140 characters. I landed a big smoke detector account by writing a slam bang marketing proposal showing how they could sell a million units a year within 9 years. Then they cut their budget to zero, and 15 other agencies disappeared. (I was working out of my back room at the time.) They hired me, I started a new agency, and they hit a million units within four years. What fun that was!

SylvieK2 karma

What are some of the lesser known but seminal advertising campaigns from decades past? In the present day, as advertising revenue moves away from print (with all it's artistic possibilities) to online (short attention span) is there even a way to still have seminal ad campaigns ?

DennisHoward5 karma

There may be too many to mention. I took my first client, a magazine called Marriage, from 14,000 to 85,000 circulation in four years on a budget of $40,000 a year, including my fee. We got returns as high as 15% from direct mail and for as little as 25 cents per order from direct response ads. It just hit a nerve with a lot of people. But there is no way you could do that today. Today's creative people have to come up with new answers.

pinkfloydchick642 karma

What is your favorite ad/campaign you helped to create? I'm an aspiring copywriter and you've had my dream career! Thanks for doing this AMA!

DennisHoward7 karma

It was probably the Toshiba campaign. I had been hired by Barickman as their creative director in New York, and immediately hired a really talented young art director I knew to work with me. Within the first week, we had all four walls in a room lined with ideas and rough layouts. But we were up against some of the worst cornball ideas from the agency's midwest offices. It took six months before the big shots came in from Tokyo to pick the campaign they liked -- all in Japanese by the way. Ours won out, but it cost Toshiba 10 times what it should have.

G-lain2 karma

I have two questions. First, what are some of your proudest moments, that aren't related to your career?

Second, was there ever a point in your career when, for better or worse, you felt that the marketing industry was irreversibly changing? If so, how did you deal with the change?

Finally, thank you for doing this AMA!

DennisHoward5 karma

My proudest moments were to see my two youngest sons surpass their father in some of their achievements. That's exactly what sons are supposed to do. One is working on solving the challenge of fusion energy, and the other is systems engineer who never took a computer course in his life, but is tops in his field. As to your second question, the answer is yes. And that was when I realized that cheap imports could wipe out brand new US industries practically overnight. Lines of distribution are now extremely short: straight from China to Walmart. We've cut out all the humans in between. That's a big part of our problem today. And thanks, it's been fun.

Denkpanzer2 karma

Did you by any chance ever got to work with Tomi Ungerer, Saul Steinberg or other artists that also did advertisement?

DennisHoward2 karma

Unfortunately, no.

PromoPimp2 karma

I work in marketing. What would you say are a few universal truths when it comes to promoting something to a mass audience? Is there anything that always works regardless, or something that NEVER works no matter what?

DennisHoward3 karma

What never works is trying to use good advertising to sell a lousy product. That's most expensive thing you can do. Some words are still powerful: FREE! for example. The latest gimmick is giving you two for one when all you really want is one. They key to success is originality, innovation, backed of course by a strong product.

beernerd1 karma

Why are cigarettes so cool? I know they're bad, but seriously...

DennisHoward8 karma

I never thought them as cool, just addictive. It was my way of keeping the seat of my pants glued to the seat of the chair while I was writing. Then I quit and haven't looked back since. When I quit, they were 70 cents a pack, now they are over $10.00. That makes me feel very good.

imgyal1 karma

The number one thing I was taught in my advertising program was that "advertising cannot increase sales" but only create awareness, alter perceptions etc. Would you say you agree?

DennisHoward7 karma

Advertising certainly creates awareness, but sales depends on the product and its ability to deliver on its implicit promise. The fastest way to kill a bad product is to advertise it heavily. But a really good one will take off with effective advertising, and the more effective the ads, the faster the takeoff. It's like taking off in an airplane. If there's something wrong with the airplane or you don't add enough power, you're not going anywhere.

wallonia1 karma

What was your 'big break' into the advertising business, and to what do you credit your longevity and success in the industry?

DennisHoward3 karma

It was simply recognizing an opportunity and then running with it. Finding the right agency took footwork and having something to bring to the table. Getting new clients was a matter of solving problems and filling needs, and of course building a track record you could talk about. The rest is a matter of maintaining a positive attitude even when things looked grim. I was 3 months behind in my mortgage when I landed a $400,000 account that was the basis for building a new agency. Before long, I was flying a new Piper Lance to their factory in Georgia to pickup smoke detectors when they were in short supply.

literaturefracture1 karma

When is the last time you saw an ad campaign that you really appreciated? I know you've mentioned quite a bit about the declining quality of advertising over the years.

DennisHoward3 karma

I think there have been some great campaigns lately -- some of them non-profits, like the wounded warrior campaign, or another that raises funds for starving children. I like the TV campaign for Progressive insurance. The main character in that has a Joy Golden quality to her. The Geico ads with the little lizard in it are fun, too. But, frankly, I haven't been thinking of award-winning ad campaigns lately.

NuclearGers1 karma

Are there any particular advertisement campaigns that you've seen recently that you think do a great job of advertising their product, and some that should just be stopped entirely?

Hope that question made sense. Thanks for doing this!

DennisHoward3 karma

See my previous answer. The ones I think should be stopped are the Cialis and Viagra ads that come over when I'm eating breakfast or dinner. It's especially ridiculous when they come on right in the middle of Huckabee. There is such a thing as context. I don't want to hear about 4-hour you-no-whats when I'm eating dinner.

FreakPatriot1 karma


DennisHoward7 karma

There has been a huge loss in religious affiliation among young people in recent years, but I'm afraid the churches haven't been listening to communicators like me. Back in the '60's, a buddy of mine and I cooked up a great campaign, and I presented it to Bishop Sheen, who used to walk past the brownstone where we worked every day. But, sad to say, nothing came of it. I think the bishops have been derelict in failing to use modern mass communications to get their message across. My non-profit has programs to address the problem of reaching young people, but the churches have to get in touch with us. Contact me through my website at MovementforaBetterAmerica.org

creamstar841 karma

Would you say that the aesthetic of your era is being well emulated / improved on in advertising today? (spotlight on menswear / auto industry / and alcohol)

DennisHoward2 karma

I just notice that the suit jackets are getting smaller and tighter -- cost reduction, I guess. Meanwhile, I can't keep up with the buy one, get three free offers from the men's clothing stores. Something is wrong there. But, of course, campaigns against drunk driving and smoking and for clean air have worked well. When I started flying in 1965, you had to climb to 5,000 feet to get above the smog layer. Now it is severe clear most days.

Mrquisitive1 karma

Give me your best sales pitch and I might let you employ me. No seriously, how about you give a random stranger a chance I may just surprise you. Thank you Dennis?

DennisHoward2 karma

Well, that's a new one! Do you really want to work for a non-profit for free like me? You're welcome!

riomx1 karma

What do you think of the grind and dispose culture of agencies like Crispin Porter + Bogusky? Do you think large agencies are worse now than in your day?

I ask because I've worked at smaller digital marketing agencies and for a while I was intrigued and felt like I couldn't fully test myself in my marketing career unless I worked at a large agency.

However, after finally interviewing at CP+B and seeing many of my suspicions confirmed about a culture of overworking and high turnaround, I wasn't impressed.

DennisHoward4 karma

That's a healthy reaction. In my day, talent was respected and fairly rewarded as long you produced. Today, you have to be a techie with special knowledge to get that kind of respect, or so it seems. I'm not familiar with today's large agencies, and besides I worked for small to mid-size ones. But the "grind and dispose culture" you mention is all too common today. The best way around it is entrepreneurship. But that was true in the '60's too.

riomx1 karma

Have you written any books or publications that are available for purchase online? I'd love to read more about your story, both in advertising as well as running your non-profit.

DennisHoward7 karma

I'm working on a couple right now, and this exchange has certainly given me some added incentive to get with the show and finish them. Thanks for the encouragement.

atulkxy1 karma

Thanks for doing the IAmA! Any book suggestions for a 20 year old interested in advertising/marketing field?

DennisHoward3 karma

I've read some good books by David Ogilvy and Jerry della Femina and another on visual communications that influenced me. Some of Vance Packard's are worth reading, too. The book that has most influenced me, however, had little to do with advertising. It is M. Scott Peck's "People of the Lie," which underscores the nature of evil in our time. As for others, I'd have to do a little more research to make suggestions.

Keaton__Potatoes1 karma

Do you ever eat while you're on the shitter?

DennisHoward11 karma

No, but I have come up with some of my best campaign ideas there. No point in wasting any good time.

shouldbeworking231 karma

Best memory of the "smoking in office" days?

DennisHoward3 karma

My best memory was the smell of the fresh, clean air after I quit. That, and quitting when cigarettes were still just 70 cents a pack,

aakime1 karma

As a 65 year old,what suggestion would you like to give us young people...any dos and don'ts that you'd like to share?

DennisHoward10 karma

I'm not 65 years old. I've just been working that long. I'm going on 85! But I love young people. My kids are just great, and I already have 2 great grand kids, with another on the way. My only advice is: Take life a day at a time, and enjoy it to the full. The don't's are simple: Avoid the crazy pitfalls, and don't do anything you might regret. I tell my kids: Don't let anyone steal your happiness! Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are in jeopardy today.

Herbanc1 karma

How and why did you end up working in advertising business? Was it the dream job for you and if it was -why? Thanks for doing this!

DennisHoward7 karma

I had gone from pure journalism to magazine consulting and designing. A friend heard of some of the results I was getting, and suggested I try my hand on Madison Avenue. I talked to 10 agencies and felt most comfortable at Zakin, so that's how I got there. Then they ran into a crisis with the Waring account, and I became marketing director by writing a 5 pound marketing study on where the blender market was going. It wasn't a matter of searching for a dream job. I just grew into it. And, frankly, that how most people move up in their careers.

SIThereAndThere1 karma

Could everyone drink in the office and do their work or just the executives? Even spark up a joint?

DennisHoward7 karma

No one drank in the office unless it was five o'clock or later. The trick was getting any work done after coming back from a long lunch. Joints were brand new at the time. I do have a funny, shaggy marijuana story, but it is much too long for this space.

Wetmelon2 karma

Reddit doesn't have a maximum character count - or it's like 2000 words? You can write an essay on reddit...

DennisHoward12 karma

You want me to scandalize my son right in front of everybody on Reddit! OK, here goes. It happened after about 10 sober days in AA. I came home from a meeting all excited about what I had heard, but my wife was tired and went to bed. I was hungry, so I fixed myself a nice hamburger, and poured out a 16 oz glass of Pepsi, and added a big stalk of celery to go with the burger. Little did I know that Pepsi and celery can be an explosive combination -- producing huge amounts of gas. I went to bed and woke up about 1 am feeling like I was 19 months pregnant, but the gas wouldn't come out either way. I was walking up and drown when my wife woke up and suggested that I tickle the back of my throat and get all the gas up that way. So I went into the bathroom and started tickling only to have strings of celery coming up and literally choking me. I thought I was dying. In fact, my whole life did pass before me, so I was sure this was the end. Between gasps, I yelled to her to call 911. Ten minutes later, 2 cops arrived with guns drawn. They thought they might be coming to a domestic dispute or something. However, someone had given my wife some marijuana seeds, and I had planted them in a window box where they grew to about 3 feet high. That was probably a federal offense at the time. Smart girl that she is, she moved over to the window to block the view from the cops, while I dealt with two ambulance guys who wanted to shove me into a wheel chair to take me away. Meanwhile, my gas attack had settled a bit, but I thought it would start up all over again if I sat up. So I resisted, but they just grabbed me anyway and shoved me into the wheelchair. And out I went down the elevator and past the doorman into the ambulance headed for Bellevue at 2 in the morning. My wife came with me, but on the way it hit me that I was finally passing my own test for what constitutes an alcoholic: You had to spend at least 1 night in jail or make the trip to Bellevue at 2 in the morning, and here I was doing it after drinking Pepsi Cola. I couldn't help laughing at the incongruity of it all. Here I was making the trip to Bellevue with "a bad case of Pepsi Cola." When we got there a foreign doctor examined me and asked me a few questions with an accent I could hardly understand. But, still be in a jovial mood, I thought he would appreciate my joke about having a "bad case of Pepsi Cola." For some reason, he didn't think it was funny. When he left the room, I looked at his notes and he had written that I had tried to OD by drinking a whole case of Pepsi Cola in one hour. What a helluva way to go! Anyhow, they gave me some Pepto Bismol, and released me the following morning. And there I was walking home to Kips Bay up First Avenue in my bathrobe and slippers, and eternally grateful to have such an understanding, supportive wife plus my newfound sobriety. I had finally passed the test.

ebrall1 karma

What's your favorite brand of whisky?

DennisHoward6 karma

Don't have one. 44 years ago, it was Dewar's

mamacrocker1 karma

What was it like making ads for evolving media, like the colorization of magazines and bringing in television? Did you have a favorite medium to write for?

DennisHoward3 karma

I wrote for almost ever medium known to man: news, features, magazine articles, direct mail, radio, TV commercials, publicity, marketing studies, training courses for AT&T, video scripts, speeches, etc. Next big challenge is getting a couple of books done. I've probably had more fun doing this Reddit than anything else. Best paying thing were training courses, I suppose, because they were toughest to write.

ismoketabacco1 karma

My grandfather used to be an ad man throughout the 60s up to the 2000s. I worked as a copywriter myself for 3 and a half years, quitting only last year.

From what he tells me and from what I've experienced, there has been major changes to the art of advertising, especially because of the introduction of online ads e social media.

What do you feel has changed most in the advertising world of today?

p.s. You had one heck of a style!

DennisHoward3 karma

Yes, there have been major changes in media of all types. Macluhan had a comment about how all of this changes us. Human being are the most adaptable creatures on earth. That's what we have to be most careful about. How is all of this changing us? Germany in WWII showed how a once great, even Christian country could descend to barbarism in a generation. Hitler claimed to meet all their most deeply felt needs, and they bought it.

MrDan7101 karma

Can you share any tricks you learned to make a successfull ad? And do people generally know what they want or is it the add-agencys work?

DennisHoward3 karma

There are no tricks to it. You have to start by understanding what any product can do to meet people's felt needs, and then translate that into appealing words and images. I always tried to put myself in the customer's seat and ask: what does he want from this product, and how can I translate that into a message, overt or subliminal. Cognitive dissonance is what turns people off. The ad writer's job is to create a cognitive connection.

Aurboda1 karma

If you were able to go back in time, would you then try to change something in ads at the time i.e. make them more like the modern day ad?

DennisHoward2 karma

No, I don't think so. If I did, the people back then wouldn't know what I was talking about.

worldwidecam1 karma

Hi! My names cameron , and I was wondering what was your worst job ever and how did you overcome it?

DennisHoward11 karma

Worst job was selling subscriptions door to door in the Bronx during one summer when I was in college. I overcame it by quitting.

atulkxy1 karma

Your thoughts on today's internet advertising (personalised banners/ pop up ads)?

DennisHoward5 karma

It depends entirely on how creative they are. Technical tricks are just vehicles. If it really engages you, it should work. If it's annoying, you're going to hate it. I think there should be a charge back for every annoying ad. They take the readers time and totally waste it, when your time is the most valuable thing you own.

WhatsYourFavFood1 karma

What's your favorite food?

DennisHoward7 karma

Forbidden Chocolate ice cream aside, it's whatever my darling wife decides to cook. My best advice: marry a good cook.