Monday, January 23, 2017
I'm awfully proud of the women in my life. As I write this from the cozy comfort of my home office, my wife is in Trumptown...er, Washington, DC. She's gathered with a million (hopefully) other enraged women, telling The Man to, "Let my pussy go."
She's not alone in this endeavor.
My two daughters have taken time away from SnapChat, beer pong and blazing 420, to also get out in the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the clouted, shard-borne nuthook, otherwise known as Precedent Shitgibbon.
As we enter this new Age of the Unenlightened and the powers that be begin to give shape to the Testosterone Doctrine, I began thinking of our better half. More specifically, the women who have shaped my life.
Even more specifically, the female copywriters who birthed and nurtured my career.
There was the first Creative Director that hired me out of the mailroom, Kat Johnson. She gave me my first shot. And for that I will always be grateful. She taught me how to write recruitment ads. Sometimes, 10 or 15 in a day. She taught me something more important, or at least tried to. How to accept rejection and go back to the drawing board with grace, resolve and a sense of humor. She had it mastered. For me, it's still a work in progress.
Then I learned to steal. And of course, by steal I mean mimic. There was no better source of material than the One Show books and the CA annuals. If you pored through those books like I did, certain agencies showed up again and again, Chiat/Day, Wieden & Kennedy, Fallon McElligot and Ammirati & Puris. Certain names also popped up over and over again, including Helayne Spivak. Her smart headlines and body copy had a New York wit that I always thought was in my wheelhouse. Of course, now she is the head of Advertising at VCU and I'm writing banner ads for the local colonics clinic, so I might have been wrong on that.
No discussion of female copywriters would be complete without the inclusion of Penny Kapsusouz. For those who don't know, Penny wrote so many of the early Apple print ads, including a 20 page insert that stands as a monument to creativity and salesmanship. Oh yeah, we're supposed to be selling this shit. Penny painstakingly removed the mystery and confusion from technology. When I began writing Apple ads for BBDO, Steve Hayden wisely handed me her work and said, "here, do it like this."
There's also a streak of poetry that runs through this business. Or at least, there should be. Janet Champ, made that happen. I remember hearing and seeing her work for Nike and feeling synapses going off in my head. There hadn't been advertising like that before. These were ads that not only sold sneakers and sweatshirts. These were ads that provided an inspirational blueprint for fathering daughters. My girls know there are unfair barriers and obstacles out there. But they also know I expect them to ignore or better yet, smash through them.
Not sure I would have heard the end of it, had I not mentioned my good friend Claudia Caplan. She once said my writing style was muscular and forceful. I told her I learned from the best. She and April Winchell, were two of the best radio writers in Southern California. Radio is a writer's medium, so I studied and stole from their work. Liberally.
And of course there's Kathy Hepinstall. She writes real books. She creates amazing pop art. She has an outrageously funny blog. And she freelances all around the country, often taking the high-paying jobs that could feed my family and easily cover my daughter's college tuition leaving me enough money to buy that jet black Audi A5 I've been eyeing.
Fuck that, I have nothing nice to say about Kathy.