Friday, November 21, 2008
My time at Campbell Ewald
Jim Hastings, the creative director at Campbell Ewald was not only a good art director he was a terrific ink line artist as well and had a great influence on me. Above is an example of his work, an ad that he did for artist/idea man Bill Tara from Los Angeles. Bill did a great deal of freelance work for us at CE and spent a lot of time in Detroit.
A photo of CEO Ted Little and me, I'm not sure who the other fellow is. Mr. Little was my boss when I was in the special "Plus One" group.
Would you believe it, we all wore suits in those days!
A freestanding sculptural display piece that I designed to promote The Chevy Show featuring Dinah Shore. Dinah used to sing the theme, "See the USA in your Chevrolet..."
I don't have much of the material that I worked on during this period.
In 1958 I was transferred out of the sales promotion department and became art director on all of the Chevrolet magazine advertising. This involved a lot of travel to Los Angeles as I used Todd Walker for most of the photography. We did a lot of photo shoots at Warner Brothers because we couldn't take the new Chevys out in public, everything was very secretive when it came to the new car models. Once when we were shooting outside on the back lot a small, low-flying airplane was approaching, the Chevrolet security guys immediately covered the cars with tarpaulins, it was very funny but they were dead serious about secrecy. I'm sure that they thought it was a Ford spy trying to snap a photo of the new Chevys, maybe they were right as everyone wanted to get photos of their competitor's newest car models.
Most of our photography was done indoors in one of the large studios. It was strange, the union would not allow Todd to plug in any of his lighting equipment, he had to stand there and tell them which plug should go in which socket so that they could do the plugging.
In the studio next door they were filming "The Old Man And The Sea" which starred Spencer Tracy, he used to let us in to watch the filming, it was wild, the whole studio was filled with water. Spencer Tracy was curious about the new car and came over one day to have a look but the Chevy security guys refused to let him in, after that we were never again allowed on his set. At the time we also photographed Dinah Shore and Pat Boone between their filming of The Chevy Show.
After a year I was offered a unique position in a special group called "Plus One". This group consisted of Fenton Luedke, a writer, and myself, we were in direct competition with the regular Chevrolet group and were responsible only to Henry Little, our offices were even in another building. We presented our campaigns along with the regular Chevrolet group, it was a very interesting period for me. We were encouraged to experiment and try new approaches, it was a great concept and it kept everyone on their toes.
Jim Hastings was moving up in the ranks and offered me his job as creative director. The job would entail a great many administrative duties as well as the creative responsibilities. I was getting a little weary of the agency internal politics and the incessant meetings and chose not to take his offer, deciding to quit and freelance. Some may have thought of this as a dumb move, but I didn't want an executive job, I really wanted to get back into the illustration field.
After I quit CE, to my surprise, I was immediately rehired as a freelancer, they even set me up in an office in the GM Building. My assignment was to work on a very secret project, to create all of the promotion and announcement ads for a brand new car, the Corvair. I couldn't let anyone in my office, everyone at the agency was very curious about what I was up to. It was so secret that when I ordered type, I had to break up the headlines and send the pieces to different typesetters, a real nightmare. It all worked out well and it was a great way to start freelancing. I later moved into nearby studio space with Dave Lindsay and Ted Lodigensky, both automotive illustrators who also were starting to freelance. We, naturally, did a great deal of business with Campbell Ewald.